If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!
This cookbook ain’t f*cking around. The recipes, a curation of the hottest dishes around the world, aren’t for the faint of heart (or stomach).
“I adore chillies, and, like anyone who grew up in Southeast Asia, was trained to enjoy spicy food from a very young age,” says Billy Law, a former MasterChef contestant, a food blogger and hot sauce enthusiast.
Before opening Law’s ode to chilli, you better ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you worship at the altar of spice?
- Is the Naga Viper your spirit animal?
- Do you carry an emergency bottle of chilli sauce because no one ever, ever gets it hot enough for you?
If your answer is yes, then this book is going to spice up your life.
If you’re not sure, then sample the three free recipes below, courtesy of Simon & Schuster Australia. If you survive your baptism of fire, you know you can survive at least some of the 60 recipes inside Law’s cookbook that are so hot they will literally bring tears to your eyes!
In this celebration of the world’s spiciest dishes you can expect to find the recipes for Louisiana jambalaya, red-hot chicken tikka masala, Nashville hot chicken, curry laksa, buffalo wings and nachos from hell. No doubt you’re sweating already…
So chilli-fiends, one question remains: what are you waiting for? Reward (or punish?) your tastebuds with some punishing heat.
Curry laksa or laksa lemak is a well-loved Malaysian curry noodle soup that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Many locals believe that eating spicy food in the sweltering heat creates a cooling effect because the food causes you to sweat. So, if there aren’t any beads of sweat dripping down your face and chilli oil splatters on your shirt, then you obviously haven’t added enough chilli!
- 200 g dried rice vermicelli
- 450 g fresh hokkien egg noodles
- 1 chicken breast fillet
- 500 g raw prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined, tails left intact (keep the prawn heads and shells to make the stock)
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
- 250 g (1 cup) Rempah spice paste (see recipe below)
- 400 ml tin coconut cream
- sea salt, to taste
- 200 g fried tofu puffs, halved
- 200 g bean sprouts
- 2 hard-boiled free-range eggs, halved
- handful of mint leaves
- handful of Vietnamese coriander (optional)
Soak the rice vermicelli in warm water for 20 minutes until soft. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the hokkien noodles in a microwave-safe bowl, then microwave on high for 3 minutes to soften. Using a fork, loosen and separate the noodles. Set aside with the vermicelli noodles, ready to be used.
Fill a large stockpot with 2 litres (8 cups) water and bring to the boil over high heat. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside to cool, then slice the chicken into thin pieces.
In the same stockpot, add the prawn heads and shells and bring back to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes to make a prawn stock. Strain the stock into a clean saucepan and discard the solids.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat. Add the rempah spice paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 15–20 minutes, until the oil has split from the paste and the cooked paste is a dark-brown colour.
Add the cooked paste to the prawn stock and stir to combine. Pour in the coconut cream and bring to the boil over medium–high heat.
Taste and season with salt. Add the tofu puffs, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Grab a quarter of the hokkien noodles and rice vermicelli and place inside a wire-mesh strainer. Add a quarter of the prawns and dunk the strainer into the hot laksa broth and let it cook for 1 minute. Lift the strainer out and place the cooked noodles and prawns into a serving bowl. Repeat with the remaining noodles and prawns.
Divide the chicken, bean sprouts and halved hard-boiled eggs evenly among the bowls, then ladle over the hot laksa broth along with the tofu puffs. Garnish with the mint leaves and Vietnamese coriander (if using) and serve immediately.
Rempah Spice Paste
Makes about 350 g
- 20 g belachan shrimp paste (see Notes)
- 10 g dried red chillies, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained
- 5 long red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 10 g candlenuts, roasted (see Notes)
- 100 g French shallots
- 15 g fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, roughly chopped
Wrap the shrimp paste tightly in foil and place in a frying pan over medium heat. Toast the shrimp paste, flipping occasionally, for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely before removing the foil. The shrimp paste should be dry and crumbly.
Place the toasted shrimp paste and the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a fine paste. If the mixture is very dry, add a tablespoon of water to get the food processor going.
It’s best to only make enough for the recipe you are cooking and use it immediately while still fresh.
- Belachan is a Malaysian fermented shrimp paste used in many Southeast Asian dishes. It is available at most Asian supermarkets.
- Candlenuts are traditionally used in spice pastes in Southeast Asian cuisines. They are available from most Asian supermarkets, but macadamia nuts can be substituted if you can’t find them.
‘Yu xiang’ is a famous seasoning in Sichuan cuisine. Despite the term literally meaning ‘fish fragrance’ in Chinese, this popular eggplant dish actually contains no seafood. The harmonious balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy in the sauce really makes the eggplant sing, making it so much more than just a naughty emoji.
Serves 4 as a side dish
- 3 long (about 600 g) Chinese eggplants
- sea salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, coarsely crushed
- 2 bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons doubanjiang (see Note)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2.5 cm knob of ginger, grated
- 1 spring onion (scallion), thinly sliced
- handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
- steamed jasmine rice, to serve
Yu xiang sauce
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
- 2 teaspoons cornflour (corn starch)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
Cut the eggplants in half, then cut each half into quarters. Place the eggplant on a baking tray, skin side down, and lightly sprinkle salt over the top. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the eggplant to sweat out some of its juices, then rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
Meanwhile, combine the yu xiang sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over high heat until smoking. Add the eggplant and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and starting to brown on all sides. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, chilli, doubanjiang, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Give the yu xiang sauce a quick stir and pour over the eggplant. Reduce the heat to medium and gently stir until the eggplant is nicely coated in the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Simmer for 1 minute or until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy.
Transfer the eggplant to a serving dish, sprinkle over the spring onion and coriander leaves (if using) and serve with steamed jasmine rice on the side.
- Doubanjiang is a fermented spicy broad bean paste widely used in Sichuan cuisine. Usually there are two types: spicy and non-spicy. Obviously we opted for the spicy version.
Spicy Korean Barbecue Pork
Koreans have a strong love affair with spicy food and this dish is a classic example, which everyone should learn how to make. It is especially popular with office workers and uni students not only because it’s super tasty, but it’s also cheap and readily available. Korean barbecue pork usually scores high on the chilli scale, so by cooking it yourself you can adjust the heat level according to your own taste buds.
- 1 kg boneless pork shoulder
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 spring onions (scallions), cut into 5 cm lengths
- vegetable oil, for greasing
- steamed jasmine rice or cos (romaine) lettuce leaves, to serve
- 135 g (1/2 cup) gochujang (see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons gochugaru (see Notes)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice (or white) vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon Korean rice syrup (ssalyeot; see Notes) or corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 5 cm (2 in) knob of ginger, finely grated
Freeze the pork for about 1 hour to allow it to firm up, then thinly slice the pork against the grain into 3 mm (⅛ in) thick strips.
Combine the pork, onion and spring onion in a large bowl and set aside.
To make the chilli marinade, combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the marinade over the pork and, using your hands (wearing kitchen gloves if you don’t want to look like you’ve committed murder), rub the marinade into the meat until it is well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Preheat a barbecue grill plate to high and grease the plate with vegetable oil. Working in batches, cook the pork mixture for 4–5 minutes, until charred and cooked through. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Serve the barbecue pork with steamed jasmine rice or cos lettuce leaves on the side to provide a relief from the heat.
- Gochujang is a fermented chilli paste widely used in Korean cuisine. It is available from Asian supermarkets.
- Gochugaru is coarsely ground Korean chilli, traditionally used to make kimchi.
- Ssalyeot is regularly used in Korean cuisine as a sweetener and to add shine to dishes. You can purchase both ingredients at any Korean supermarket.
Extracted from F*ck That’s Hot! by Billy Law, published by Smith Street Books, April 2020, RRP $39.99. Photography © Georgia Gold.