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"Some Like It Hot" by Clifford Wright


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Earlier this week, I attended a cooking class, demonstrated by Clifford Wright, on his new book, “Some Like It Hot: Spicy Favorites From The World's Hot Zones.”

He cooked six spicy dishes from different parts of the world and the class got to sample all of them. And I'm still living to tell you about it.

Here are the six dishes Clifford prepared:

Chive pancakes (Korea): The pancakes batter had two red jalapeno chiles. Once cooked, you take a piece of the pancake & eat it with a Korean red chile paste (koch'ujang). This is slightly hot & sweet.

Jerk shrimp (Jamaica): two pounds of shrimp marinading in the jerk seasoning which contained scallions, ginger, coriander, garlic, nutmeg, allspice, thyme, pernut oil, soy sauce, and NINE finely chopped habanero chiles. Everyone got one skewer of jerk shrimp. When we ate the jerk shrimp, WHOA, MAMA!!!! At this point, we took a ten-minute break to cool down. Aside from the spiciness, there was a very smooth flavor to the shrimp that I liked. This was definitely the spiciest dish of the evening.

Vegetable curry in yogurt gravy (state of Kerala, India): While the spiciness was about medium (ten green jalapenos), the vegetarian stew (avial) had a wonderful satisfying flavor with the different vegetables (eggplant, sweet potato, peas, green beans, carrot, onion) included, as well as some fruits like mango & shredded, unsweetened coconut. Clifford commented how this vegetarian dish is satisfying to meat eaters. They don't miss the meat when eating this dish. The class agreed as well.

Drunkard's fried noodles with seafood (Thailand): Wide rice noodles (pad Thai) are used to be mixed with the shrimp, scallops & squid, some seasonings (Thai fish sauce, tamarind water, garlic, lemongrass) and Thai chiles (or “sky-pointing chiles”; green serranos can be used). Quite spicy, but not as spicy as the jerk shrimp, the dish had a “light” & “clean” flavor, as opposed to the “warmer” flavor of the jerk shrimp dish.

Mahi mahi with green chile and cilantro cream sauce (Mexico, Pacific side): The cream sauce is slightly spicy, because of the creme fraiche that offsets it. After the fish is browned, the spicy cream sauce is added into the pan, covered and cooks for about fifteen minutes. I asked Clifford if the fish will become dry after fifteen minutes. I tasted it and it was moist, not dry., because the mahi mahi were thick fish steaks.

Ranchero steaks with chipotle chile sauce (Sonora, Mexico): This dish was delicious and barely spicy (to me). The sauce had tomatillos, garlic, & canned chipotle chiles. I mean, come on!

Yes, I noticed how the spiciness of the dishes was tapering off as the evening progressed. I enjoyed the cooking demo tremendously. This was a great way to be introduced to this book, especially when the author was right there cooking all these selections.

Thank you, Clifford Wright!

edited for additional information & formatting

Edited by rjwong (log)

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Nice eport, Russell. I wonder if the heat wsa getting less simply because you were getting more acclimated to it - capsaicin "fatigue" as it were?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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well, thank you for starting this thread. It is quite true that the later dishes may have seemed less hot because the diner was getting acclimated to the affect of the capsaicin. The food was unusual because normally you wouldn't eat from 5 different cultures in one sitting. But once we were tasting it didn't seem totally bizarre. Incidentally Nabham's book is an excellent complement to mine.

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