Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bird's-Eye Chilli Pepper

Capsicum frutescens
 Bird's-Eye Chilli Pepper

Many years ago I went to a cooking school in Bali in the beautiful town of Ubud where, among other things, I learned to make the local speciality Rujak Buah-Buah Petis which is basically fruit salad with chilli pepper. Adding something hot to what I had regarded as a dessert to be eaten with ice-cream seemed very strange at the time, but once you acquire the taste for chilli ,the sky is the limit as to the number of ways you can find to use them. The variety of chilli used in Bali is a short bulbous one and is called tabia Bali and is not dissimilar to the fiery hot bird's eye variety which is more associated with Thailand. Bird's-eye chilli goes by the unfortunate name of "rat droppings" owing to its small size and is called prik kee noo suan in Thai. On every dining table in Thailand is a small bowl of dipping sauce or chilli water which is added to whatever you are eating at the time. The ingredients are as follows: 3 tablespoons each of lime juice, fish sauce and water, 2 tablespoons sugar, white or palm, 1 teaspoon crushed garlic and 2 tablespoons finely sliced bird's eye chillies. Mix together until the sugar dissolves. It is often recommended when using chili to remove the seeds to reduce the heat but in this case the whole is too small. You get used to the heat and I always have some cooling cucumber salad with fresh mint as a side should I bite into a whole chilli piece at any time.
My summer crop of chilli peppers is slowly changing from green to red or yellow at the moment. I will have some more varieties to show over the coming weeks.


  1. Ian, great dipping sauce. And your pepper crop looks good, too. I love these little peppers.