You’ve accidentally used too much hot sauce or too many fresh chillies and now your food is too spicy. What next? How do you save your food? Here are some things to try.
Add more ingredients
One easy way to dilute the spiciness is by adding more ingredients to dilute the spiciness. Adding more ingredients will alter the proportion of the spicy element thus toning it down. If it’s soup, try adding more soup or stew. In whatever other dish, you can add more vegetables, protein, starch or whatever ingredient you have extra of.
For certain stews like chicken and banana stew (among others) as well as Asian dishes, adding a scoop of peanut butter will help smother the flames. Other nuts you can add are cashew and almond butter. You may end up liking the extra flavour and creamy texture.
Milk is often used to provide relief from spicy foods and with good reason. The intensely hot sensation from eating chillies is the product of a chemical called capsaicin. Milk and dairy products have a protein called casein which is able to bind capsaicin before it reaches the tongue, so it reaches fewer receptors and lessens the sensation of spice. If your dish is too spicy, try adding heavy cream, yoghurt, sour cream, or butter to help mellow it out.
Add fat or skim off fat
Fat has a quality that makes it bind spicy substances. So, if the meal you were preparing had a lot of fat, you can let it rest, then when the fat rises to the surface, you skim it off with the spicy substances bound to it. Alternatively, if your food didn’t have a lot of fat to begin with, and you can afford to cook it longer without overcooking and ruining it, you can add fat and cook it a little longer. Then when you’re done let it rest a bit and when the fat rises to the top, you skim it off along with the spice bound to it.
Sugar can help neutralize the heat of chilli peppers. Try adding a little sugar or honey or maple syrup to balance out the too—hot flavour. You can also add a sauce with high sugar content like tomato ketchup.
Potatoes and/or carrots
Some people swear by adding chopped potatoes or shredded carrots to an over-spiced dish. The porous nature of the potato with the release of the sugars may go some way towards salvaging the dish.
Capsaicin the chemical in chilli is alkaline so pairing it with something acidic like citrus juice can help neutralize some of the heat. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime. A little lemon can also brighten the flavours. Another effective acid that you can add is vinegar, just a dash. Orange juice can also work.
Serve with bland foods
If the food is too spicy and you don’t want to risk altering the taste through any of the above interventions, you can serve it with something bland and starchy so that when eaten together, the spice is diffused a little bit. Starchy options to consider include rice, pasta, crusty bread, or potatoes.
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