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Book review – Heat: Cooking with Chillies, the World's Favourite Spice

02 September 2016 by
Book review – Heat: Cooking with Chillies, the World's Favourite Spice

By Kay Plunkett-Hogge

Quercus, £20

Heat: Cooking with Chillies, the World's Favourite Spice follows the fruit of the capsicum plant on its adventures around the world. Kay Plunkett-Hogge, a food writer who grew up in Thailand, where her love affair with chilli began, has compiled the 120 recipes featured in the book over a period of 30 years.

Although the book is aimed at home cooks, any chef could take something away from these diverse recipes, which use various types of chilli to complement, not overpower, the flavours of a dish.

The chilli heat scale, named after American pharmacist Professor Wilbur Scoville, helps to differentiate the vast amount of chillies available around the world and is published here. It is so useful that I photocopied it and stuck it inside one of my kitchen cupboards. It ranks chillies from ‘zero' to ‘explosive'.

As it might be difficult to lay your hands on certain varieties of chilli, Plunkett-Hogge usefully provides substitutes at the back of the book, alongside a supplier list.

The recipes aren't complex, but they are thought-provoking. They vary from a mild and aromatic Cuban black bean soup (which is meat-free, but would welcome the addition of pork), to a fisherman's stew famous in San Francisco called cioppino, which uses chipotle chilli.

Chefs may find the variety of vegetarian dishes outlined in the book to be a source of inspiration, such as in an aubergine dish incorporating Szechuan peppercorns, red birds-eye chillies, dried Szechuan chillies and chilli bean paste.

If you're looking for recipes to burn your taste buds off, then this isn't for you. But if you're willing to experiment, from bell peppers to habanero, then give Heat a go.

By Katie Pathiaki

If you like this, you may enjoy these

  • Made in India: Cooked in Britain: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen Meera Sodha
  • Chilli Cookbook Valerie Ferguson
  • Sirocco: Fabulous Flavours from the East Sabrina Ghayour

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