HOT, MILD, SWEET AND SAVOURY sauces & dressings
Sometimes a good sauce or dressing is all you need to take a plain dish to new, exotic heights.
Next time you’re heading to a pot luck or barbecue, take a bottle of your finest preserve for the hosts. Like this sweet chilli sauce. The recipe makes about 6 cups.
Ingredients • 150g long red chillies (fresh or frozen from last year’s crop), deseeded and roughly chopped • 150g red capsicums, deseeded and chopped • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed • 600ml apple cider vinegar • 1kg jam-setting sugar
Whiz the chillies, capsicums, ginger and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar to the vinegar in a jam pan or wide heavy-based pan and heat gently till the sugar is dissolved. Add the chilli mixture and bring to the boil, then cook at a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and cool for 20-30 minutes; stir gently as it sets to ensure the flecks of chilli are evenly suspended in the syrupy liquid. Pour into warm sterile jars and seal.
Preserved lemons are a staple ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking, used in savoury dishes.
Scrub five ‘Lisbon’, ‘Yen Ben’, ‘Villa Franca’ or ‘Lemonade’ lemons and dry them with kitchen paper. Do not use ‘Meyer’ lemons as their skin is not firm enough; they'll turn to mush. Slice each lemon lengthways into quarters, without cutting all the way through so they remain attached at the bottom. Pack each lemon with coarse sea salt, then transfer to a jar. Pour over enough lemon juice to completely cover and soak the lemons. Add a sprinkle more salt over the top and seal. Store in a dark place for 3-4 weeks to allow them to cure.
To use, remove the amount of lemon you need and run under a cold tap to wash off the salt. Using a sharp paring knife, scrape the pith off the skin, and discard. Finely slice or chop skin and use.
Smoked garlic lends a delicate, subtle flavour to simple dishes, especially pasta, risotto, sauces and dips. It’s easy to smoke garlic if you have a smoker.
Take whole bulbs and remove the papery skin, leaving the thicker skin on so the bulbs stay intact. Set the smoker up for a 10-minute smoke time. Place bulbs on the rack inside the smoker tip down so the smoke can penetrate the insides. Leave the bulbs to smoke gently.
Allow the bulbs to cool on the rack inside the smoker before removing them. During the smoking process the oils inside the garlic will have converted to sugar, which sometimes sticks as it runs. Squeeze the smoked, softened, cloves from their skins and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Keeps for 1 month if covered with oil in a jar.
When making a sauce, add a balance of sweet, acid, salt and spice. So, an Asian-style sauce might have orange juice (sweet, acid), brown sugar (sweet), rice vinegar (acid), soy sauce (salt) and chillies (spice).