Thursday, 29 October 2009

some like it hot

(as heard on FBi Radio)

There are those who find a mere glance at a chilli makes them sweat and there are those, somewhat braver souls who relish any opportunity to demonstrate their Kevlar-lined mouth and cast iron stomach at any given opportunity. I have a friend who I once witnessed eat a curry so hot, he nearly fainted. To those in this latter group, those brave souls who live to 'feel the burn', this is for you.

Spice I Am

90 Wentworth Avenue
Surry Hills NSW 2010.
02 9280 0928.

papaya salad

Spice I Am isn't quite competitive eating, however it does require an element of bravery and determination if you're going to eat Thai food the authentic way: with a whole lot of chilli.

The first thing you'll notice about the menu is that there are a whole lot of 'S's denoting particularly spicy dishes. The Pad Prik King with Crispy Pork Belly is a house favourite amongst regulars. Comprising stir-fried curry paste, green beans, kaffir lime leaves and crispy pork belly; its simultaneously crunchy, spicy, fresh and tangy.

After a few seconds, the chilli kicks in - it almost dares you not to go back for more however the killed combination of tender pork meat and crisp crackling will usually mean your tastebuds will battle to overcome the spice for another bite.

Spicy Sichuan Restaurant

9 Glebe Point Rd
Glebe NSW 2037
(02) 9660 8200

Spicy Sichuan's website url reads '' ...and they ain't kidding.

On the corner of Glebe Point Road and Parramatta Road, this authentic Sichuan restaurant also sits at the cross roads of 'ouch that hurts' and 'gimme more'. The kind wait staff can pick a newbie though, and the kitchen goes easy on them accordingly - so if you like it hot, let them know; the guys on the burners are only too glad to accommodate.

Start with the marinated pigs ear salad, served with cucumber and chilli oil to open up the palate..the texture of the pigs ear and the cucumber give crunch and the chilli oil is more about flavour than out and out burn.

A first visit to any Sichuan restaurant requires that you order a serve of Ma Po Tofu: It's the standard by which any good Sichuan establishment can be measured. Happily, things bode well for the dry-fried barramundi and steamed pork belly to come.

Wash it all down with a Tsing Tao if the heat starts to get to you.

Chairman Mao Chinese Restaurant
189 Anzac Pde
Kensington 2033 NSW
Phone: (02) 9697 9189

If Sichuan food is old news, then Hunan should be the next chilli cuisine on your mission to conquer. The landlocked province of Hunan, in China's south east focuses more on fresh chillis (Szechuan cooking utilises more dried chillies) and garlic.

In the past month, a veritable smogasboard of famous have dined here, including Fuchsia Dunlop and Terry Durack. For good reason, too. Chef and owner Andrew may turn up the heat, but the flavours are rich and varied.

Start with the seaweed and the marinated pigs ear salads and move onto the stir-fried eggplant (with as many green chilli slices as there are of eggplant). The braised beef with preserved duck eggs is also worth a look in, and, when to break up the spice, Mao does a brilliant version of steamed egg with pork mince.

Cool your palate with a black sesame ice-cream glutenous rice ball for dessert - given two thumbs up by patissier du jour Adriano Zumbo, on a recent trip to the Chairman (so you know it's good, right?)

If you're tentative about stepping out of the frying pan and into the fire, here are a few top tips on how to quell the heat.