It happens so often when I go to a restaurant – whether English or Oriental, Italian or Mexican, French or Spanish – in fact ANY nationality. For some reason raw food translates as salad, equals plain and boring.
Fresh vegetables boiled to mush, diminished to tiny flotsam in a sludgy sauce or the sideshow in a risotto or pasta dish quickly turn off my appetite. So to make life easier for the chef, I usually go for the salad option, but without the cheese and egg adornments – presumably there for ‘protein’.
What I want to know is why only cooked food can be spicy in restaurants? Why do vegan raw foodists have to meekly accept whatever leaves or other items (deemed salad) are tossed their way with a light vinaigrette, while everyone else gets spicy options? I want HEAT in my food! I want green and red raw hot chilli peppers, garlic and ginger, turmeric, mustard seeds, anise, and cinnamon. Even my local Thai restaurant, known for their eye watering curries, serves up plain salads.
Hot for chilli
Chilli’s reputation as an aphrodisiac isn’t based on myth or marketing. These vitamin-packed pods are one of nature’s legal highs. Capsaicin, the active ingredient that gives them their heat, releases endorphins from the brain and lifts your mood. Eating raw chilli is a full mind, body and soul experience. The heat warms your whole body – if you eat enough you’ll feel it – clearing out toxins from the bloodstream in a sweating process that cools the body down. This is why summer is the perfect time to increase the ‘heat’ factor in your food. Capsaicin also aids digestion, increases the metabolism, reduces appetite – and helps maintain a healthy heart.
At home, my raw dishes effervesce with distinctive flavours, warmth and heat to varying degrees. I am totally fearless with spices and herbs. Due to popular request, I am offering this simple, spicy raw red pepper sauce recipe, which I adapted to provide a spicy kick. I hope it will open your eyes to what’s possible in the hitherto unsung world of spicy hot raw cuisine, and encourage you to experiment further.
Spicy Raw Red Pepper Sauce
This pretty salmon coloured sauce should keep for up to three days if stored in the fridge. It livens up almost any dish, and can be used as a party dip, topping, or sauce for any combination of raw veggies.
Makes approx half a litre (blender required)
1 red bell pepper or sweet pointed pepper (finely chopped)
1/3 cup of raw cashews
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes (chopped)
Half a red onion (finely chopped)
Half a green chilli pepper (Thai ones have the prerequisite fiery punch)
1 garlic clove
Half a freshly squeezed lemon
1. Soak the cashews and chopped sun dried tomatoes in a little water for 20 mins or so until soft.
2. Finely chop the red pepper, onion, chilli pepper and garlic
3. Blend the soaked cashews and sundried tomatoes with a little water until smooth.
4. Add the chopped red pepper, onion, green chilli pepper, garlic, freshly squeezed lemon juice plus a teaspoon of Tamari and dash of sea salt (to taste).
5. Blend all the ingredients until smooth.
6. Transfer to a jar and place in fridge to cool.