Take heat head-on with a few savvy tips from Tash Feldman.

By Rai Mincey
May 18, 2021
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Home cook Rachel loves Thai cuisine, but struggles to monitor the intense heat in some of her favorite dishes. Watch how recipe developer Tash Feldman helps Rachel transform her blazing hot curry into an unbelievably delicious meal.

The problem: Rachel is struggling to stabilize the spice levels in a peppery Thai curry.

The solution: Use a few incredible flavor hacks to keep the heat vibrant, not overwhelming.

No-Fail Tips

  • Perfect your prep: learn the proper way to chop, dice, and mince so that intensely flavored ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Mellow overly spicy sauces with sugar, acidity, fat, or dilution for bold but balanced results.

Chop Chop

Garlic is essential to creating curry's flavor base, so it's important to treat its preparation with care. Struggling to separate garlic from its finicky skin? "The first thing you're going to do is cut the papery end of each clove," advises Tash. "If you cut the end, but you leave a little piece (hanging) on, you can peel back the skin and wiggle the garlic out."

Continue by dicing the garlic. "Make as many slices as you can in one direction, then flip it 90 degrees and repeat," says Feldman. Next, chop the clove horizontally into a grid-style dice. To mince, place your non-dominant hand on the front of your knife while gently rocking up and down the garlic. Firmly drag the side of the knife along the garlic to create a paste.

Red Hot Remedy

After fresh garlic and ginger have been sautéed, it's time to add curry paste. "This is the number one thing that's going to affect the spice levels," says Feldman. No worries if you go overboard with the potent spice blend. Full-fat coconut helps round out heat with its luscious creaminess. Another easy way to dial back the heat is to add a bit of sweetness. Start with a teaspoon of brown sugar, and build up incrementally to your preference.

overhead shot red Thai curry with chili pepper garnish
Credit: Meredith

Acidic ingredients like lemon or vinegar can help to soften a super-hot dish as well. Fat, sugar, acidity, and dilution are four ways you can manage fiery notes in your favorite recipes. Use one or all these methods to determine what suits your taste best. Feldman encourages home cooks to step outside of their culinary comfort zone, assuring us "there's no shame in having a hard time working with new ingredients."

Want to dive into your own deliciously hot curry? Get the recipe for Spicy Red Thai Curry here.