Sunday, July 25, 2010

If you can't stand the heat...

My fingers burn. My lips and nose burn. My eyelids burn.

All because I decided that it would be a good idea to get all the very spicy sauce-making over with in one session.

Tonight was stuffed poblano peppers (which are generally mild, but for some reason, two of the four were extremely hot!), but later this week I'm making eggplant glazed with honey and harissa, and then later in the week I'm making Szechuan vegetable balls in Chinese tomato gravy. I made a home version of harissa that's sort of chunky, since I lack a true spice grinder, and I made the Szechuan-style hot sauce, which will be added to the overall tomato sauce later.

First was the Szechuan sauce. I suppose I should have been tipped off by the fact that it called for a quarter cup of garlic, plus five more cloves for later, as well as red onion, celery, ten dried hot peppers, and two fresh hot peppers. Cooking it all up with some vinegar and cornstarch and salt and sugar released some truly potent steam (God, for a fume hood!). When I tasted it, I said, "Ow!" out loud and then had to sit down for a minute. I diluted it a bit after that, mostly out of fear that it would melt my plastic spoon, but it still packs a punch.

Next, the harissa. It didn't have to be simmered, so there were no chili inhalation problems, thank god. Still, chopping the fresh and dried chilies (and no, I didn't have any gloves) just added to the burn. There were five cloves of garlic to chop, too.

And last, the poblanos. Garlic and jalapeno and onion went into the tomato sauce they cooked in; garlic and onion and beans and cornmeal and cilantro and cheese went into the filling. I also made a tomato cumin rice and some simple steamed green beans to go with it.

Overall, pretty tasty. But who knows, perhaps I'd have enjoyed it more without the residual burn from a total 20 dried and 8 fresh peppers.

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