Ixta Belfrage’s secret ingredient: dried habanero chillies

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The Guardian

The smell of habanero chillies is incredible. It is a sort of hot fruitiness with a hint of smoke. It is almost impossible to put into words.They are native to the Amazon, but most people consider them to be Mexican because that’s the cuisine they’re most used in. I use dried because you can’t get fresh ones in the UK.

You can add dried habanero chillies to sauces or stews or broths. I add them to brown butter. I sometimes grate one with a microplane over a dish at the end – for example, a fish crudo or ceviche. You could also do that with pasta, or even desserts – custards or flans.

It is a very spicy chilli, there are no two ways about it, but you can choose whether you want to harness the flavour or the spice. It has the ability to be as spicy as you want. The longer you leave them in a sauce or stew, the more permeable the skin becomes, and that’s where you’ll get the heat that’s in the seeds and the pith. If you leave the whole chilli in for a little bit, you’ll just get the flavour and subtle heat. If you leave it in for a long time and squash it, then obviously there will be more heat. Taste as you go.

Ixta Belfrage is the author of Mezcla: Recipes to Excite (Ebury, £26)

July 17, 2022 at 04:52PM Interview by Molly Tait-Hyland

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