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Testing the world’s hottest chillies (so you don’t have to)

February 25, 2016 9:03 am

You’ve dabbled in jalapeños. You may have even cooked with cayenne. But what about the fruity fatalli or the ominous-sounding ghost pepper?

Deriving their hot taste from concentrated capsaicin – an irritant which can burn skin – chilli peppers are a staple flavour in most Asian dishes. Their pungency is measured by the Scoville scale, named after its founder, Wilbur Scoville. Paprika peppers achieve around 500 SHU (Scoville Heat Units); the world’s spiciest are around 4,400 times hotter. Here’s our pick of ten to try.

Paprika

250 - 1000 SHU Dried and ground down to spice, paprika peppers come in a wide variety of colours, sizes and flavours. Exceptionally mild, the peppers can also be used to add colour to egg and fish dishes.

Jalepeño

1,000 - 20,000 SHU Hot but not unbearable, the jalepeño is what most of us...

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Spice at a price: The story of saffron

February 18, 2016 3:48 pm

For over 4,000 years, saffron has permeated human history with its vibrant golden hue, strong aroma and distinctive flavour, infusing the cooking, clothing and medicinal practices of civilisations across the world.

Where does it come from?

Saffron is derived from the dried styles and stigmas (collectively known as threads) from flowers of the Crocus sativus plant. This plant – commonly known as the saffron crocus – is relatively unfussy in its growth requirements. Providing the soil is well-drained, it can thrive in disparate locations across the globe, from Egypt to Essex. Iran sits comfortably in the lead, however, accounting for about 90% of the world’s supply.

What’s it used for?

Saffron has been used extensively throughout human history, both in and out of the kitchen. While its use as a food seasoning is well-documented, its vivid colour and pungent aroma have also made it a popular ingredient in perfumes,...

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Asian food to avoid on a Valentine’s Day date…

February 12, 2016 8:17 am

Love is in the air, and on the cards, and in the shop windows. Valentine’s Day is on the horizon: those who celebrate are planning romantic nights out or in. Asian food is perennially popular in the UK, and by no means a bad choice, but there are a few options from which you should steer clear…

Sushi (probably)

There’s nothing unromantic about the Japanese seafood speciality, but you have to know your date and your sushi pretty well to pull this off. Some people turn up their noses at the very idea of raw fish - it’s definitely wise to check first. The etiquette surrounding sushi is notoriously complicated, and even if you know which end of your chopsticks to use for what, they’re fiddly to use. Soy sauce stains aren’t sexy. And finally, it’s not that...

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10 unusual street foods to try in India

February 9, 2016 5:35 pm

Street food is one of the best ways to grab an authentic “bite” of another culture. Variety is the spice of life, and India offers a vast array of flavours and food experiences to sample. It’s not just about the curry. This ancient civilisation is made up of 645 distinct tribal cultures, all with very different beliefs and languages, influences from settlers and traders, cooking practices and local ingredients. India might be the land of spice, but the Moghul dynasty is responsible for the saffron, creamy gravies and nut purées that characterise the northern region’s cuisine. Rice and coconut dominate most dishes across Southern India, while delicate fish-based flavours reign in eastern Bengalis. Gujarat is famous for its vegetarian fare, while you can enjoy beef, chicken and goat in eastern Bihar. More than 15 tribes make up Nagaland, where you can find street vendors selling steamed hornet larvae. The...

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Discovering Japanese cuisine, region by region

February 5, 2016 3:30 pm

As well as its mainland, Japan decorates the east coast of Asia with a staggering 6,852 islands, characterised by a range of climates, terrains and agricultural practices. Together, these factors offer a huge range of eating opportunities, which vary vastly depending on where you visit.

In this article, we’ll explore the signature dishes that define just a handful of these regions. So buckle your seatbelts and unbuckle your jeans as we embark on a culinary tour of this diverse nation…

Hokkaido

The northernmost of Japan’s main islands is a region of cool summers and harsh winters. Thanks to its favourable soil and relatively sparse population, much of the land is available for agriculture – wheat, potatoes, onions and corn all thrive here. The pièce de résistance of Hokkaidan cuisine is incontestably the Read More