Turning up the Heat

Gardener:Somerset Sue

Date:16 Sep 2022

Blog Type:Vegetables, Recipes

I was born in Singapore (a long time ago). My father was in the NZ Defence Force and those were the days when soldiers had a two year posting and could take their family with them for the duration of their tour.

So we came back to NZ when I was just over six months old but then, when I was the ripe old age of 7 we returned for a posting to Malaysia for another two years.What a privilege it was to spend part of my childhood in South East Asia.

One of the bonuses was that my Mum learned how to cook, and we learned to love eating, authentic Asian cuisine. In those days in NZ there were very few Asian takeaways and none of the kids I went to school with ate anything that had the slightest hint of heat.

I have grown up loving the tastes of the Orient. I own two cast iron woks in which I have cooked hundreds and hundreds of meals for my family all based on my Mum's recipes from her time in the East.

I love the heat of a chilli, the sourness of lime and the saltiness of a good fish sauce. Strangely enough one of my favourite hot sauces is based on a recipe by a kiwi cook Annabel Langbein. Years ago I planted a kaffir lime tree just so I could make this Chilli Jam.

It needs a head of garlic, around 8 long red chillies, 3 thumb sized pieces of root ginger, 2 kaffir lime leaves, 2 1/2 cups of caster sugar, 1/2 cup water, grated zest of four limes, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, 3 tbsp fish sauce and a tsp soy sauce.  The garlic, chillies, ginger and kaffir get blitzed to a fine paste and then all of the ingredients go into a saucepan and are boiled until reduced to jam consistency. You can store it in sterilised jars and it will keep for up to a year. 

My love of Asian food influences a lot of what we grow in our vegetable and herb gardens. Chillies of course, the kaffir lime, a tahitian lime, coriander and even stir fry vege's - onion, spring onion, broccoli, cauli and cabbage. 

The citrus in the photo look like lemons but they are actually limes.


Turning up the Heat