I realise I haven’t posted on here for a while, for a whole variety of reasons, from lack of time, no cooking inspiration and revision for exams, but here I am again, sharing a little slice of my life with you as a way of apologising.
Yesterday I made a very nice pasta sauce recipe from scratch (and bastardised Italian cuisine in the process), but I did note that I was a little heavy handed with the chilli flakes. Usually I would post the recipe I made, but as I didn’t take photos, I’m instead writing a guide for neutralising a spicy dish (or at least making it a little less spicy).
It’s tempting (particularly with sauces) to minimise spiciness, simply by adding water, but often it reduces the richness of all the ingredients you used and makes the dish somewhat bland, so here’s a quick guide to making a recipe less spicy.
First you need to figure out where exactly the spice is coming from, as there are several kinds of compounds which induce the spicy aroma and/or sensation.
Capsaicin is the active component in chilli peppers, which acts as an irritant for mammals and induces a sensation of burning, even in very small quantities. It is the highest chemical on the Scoville Scale (a measurement of piquance) and therefore the most likely to affect the dish.
Capsaicin is very poorly soluble in water, but highly soluble in fats, therefore the easiest way to neutralise this type of heat is by using a fat, the most obvious solution being olive oil, but butter may be used as an alternative.
Piperine is the alkaloid responsible for the pungency of black pepper. It is the third highest rated component on the Scoville Scale and has a poor solubility in water.
However, it has a high solubility in alcohol, ether or chloroform. In order to reduce the heat from Piperine it would be best not to use chloroform (unless you’re having that special kind of dinner party) and instead use an alcohol such as wine, or a higher alcohol percentage such as vodka.
Allicin is an organosulphur compound produced by garlic and onions and although it is not “spicy”, it may often be perceived as overpowering in high quantities.
In order to minimise the pungency of this compound, it is best to add both fat and alcohol, as it is more soluble in alcohol and also because Allicin breaks down into fat soluble polysulphides when cooked.
So, to neutralise garlic and onion pungency, try adding vodka and a splash of olive oil to your dish.
Gingerols and Shoagols
Both Gingerols and Shoagols are present in ginger as it breaks down and the latter is perceived to be far more pungent than the former. It is the second highest rated chemical on the Scoville Scale and therefore one of the hottest.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to neutralise this flavour is to add water to the dish and simply cook it off, i.e. add the water, bring the sauce to the boil, then reduce the sauce. This converts the Gingerols and Shoagols into a far milder chemical structure called Zingerone.
A more difficult method of minimising spiciness made by this compound is by adding a buffering agent, such as baking soda, however, care must be taken when using this, as too much will ruin the taste of the dish completely.
First time I’ve posted on my cookery blog in ages. This isn’t a recipe, but just a little helpful guide.