Harissa Paste

HarissaHarissa is a popular North African hot chilli paste generally made from a mix of smoky, roasted red peppers, hot chilli peppers, garlic, spices such as coriander and caraway seeds and olive oil. Variations can be found in the cuisine of Libya, Algeria, Morocco and particularly Tunisia and may contain onions, tomato puree, lemon juice, saffron and even rose water. Harissa can be used as a condiment or as a rub for meat, in meat, poultry and fish stews, in soups and as a flavouring for couscous.


Harissa Paste

2 Red Peppers

1 medium White Onion, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped

3 hot Red Chillies

4 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Tomato Puree

Juice of a freshly squeezed Lemon

1 teaspoon Coriander Seeds

1 teaspoon Caraway Seeds

½ teaspoon Cumin Seeds

½  teaspoon Sea Salt

Place the peppers under a very hot grill and roast turning occasionally until the skin is blackened on the outside and the pepper completely soft. Transfer to a small glass bowl, and cover with cling film, and allow to cool completely. Carefully peel the peppers and discard its skin and seeds.

Using a heavy-bottomed frying pan lightly toast the coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds for a couple of minutes over a low heat. Place them in a spice blender or a mortar and pestle and grind to a powder. Heat the olive oil in the frying pan over medium heat, and sauté the onion until it starts to caramelise, then and the garlic and chillies and cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Remove from the heat and allow to thoroughly cool then using a blender or a food processor blitz all of the ingredients until smooth, adding a little more oil if needed. Store in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.


Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire Sauce is a fermented liquid condiment created in 1837 by two English chemists. It is used in lots of home cooking, burgers, soups, stews and casseroles, principally because of its savoury flavours and as a source of umami. Specifically, Worcestershire Sauce is a principal ingredient in Welsh Rarebit, Caesar Dressing, and the Bloody Mary Cocktail.

Worcestershire Sauce

The first Worcestershire Sauce was made by a couple of chemists called Lea & Perrin who were commissioned to manufacture an Indian style sauce for a returning member of the British Raj. The sauce was a mix of malt vinegar, molasses, anchovies*, sugar, salt, onions, garlic, lemons, tamarind paste, and spices including cloves, chilli and pepper. According to folklore the resulting sauce was unusable and was left in a barrel, after some time one of the pair tasted the sauce again. Because of fermentation, the sauce had mellowed and was close to what we now use today.

*Anchovy sauces in Europe can be traced back to the 17th century. In Roman times the food was seasoned with a fermented fish sauce called Garum and a recipe for it is included in Apicius, a famous Roman culinary record. Because of the anchovies, Worcestershire sauce is unsuitable for people allergic to fish, vegans, and vegetarians.

The best way of letting your Worcestershire Sauce develop its particular flavour is to bottle it in old sterilised disused beer bottles and then pasteurise the contents and leave to mature.

Worcestershire Sauce                                              about 1 litre

2 tablespoons good quality Olive Oil

2 large sweet Onions, peeled and chopped

2 large cooking Apples, peeled and chopped

400 ml Malt Vinegar

300 ml Golden Syrup

300 ml Beer

150 ml Orange Juice

150 ml  Tamarind paste

6 cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped

6 centimetre piece of Ginger, peeled and grated

2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeds removed and minced

200 gr tinned Anchovies, chopped

150 ml  Tamarind paste

150 ml Tomato paste

1 tablespoon freshly cracked Black Pepper

2 whole Cloves

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and sauté the chopped onion over a medium heat until soft, but without too much colouring. Add the tamarind paste, garlic, ginger, and Jalapenos. Reduce the heat and very gently cook for another ten minutes, stirring continuously taking care not to burn the ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 3 hours until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Strain Worcestershire sauce into sterilised glass bottles or jars and store in a cool dark cupboard.




Nam prik pao or Thai Chilli Paste

Commercial Thai Chilli Paste
Thai Chilli paste

The base of a good Thai Tom yam soup is a paste called Nam prik pao  or Thai Chilli paste made from roasted garlic, chillies, shallots and as with many Thai base recipes dried shrimp. A commercially made paste is available and perfectly acceptable but I think for the most vibrant authentic taste it is best made fresh ingredients.

Homemade Thai Chilli Paste

 Nam prik pao 

10 large Red Thai Chillies, de-seeded and membranes removed

10 cloves of Garlic, peeled

8 large Banana Shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

200 gr Galangal, peeled and sliced

100 gr Dried Shrimps, soaked overnight in a little water

50 gr Light Brown Sugar

8 Lemongrass, peeled and chopped

6 tablespoons Tamarind Paste

4 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar

3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

400 ml Water

Heat the oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas mark 5. Place the shallots, galangal, garlic and chillies on a tray and drizzle with the oil, place in the oven and roast for forty-five minutes until soft and caramelised. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and place in a food processor. Drain the shrimp and add along with the lemongrass to the roasted shallots and spices. Blitz to make a paste. Place the paste, sugar, water, tamarind paste and vinegar in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to the gentlest

simmer, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and burning, and reduce the mixture until it becomes smooth and thick. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container or sterilised jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

If you really like heat do not remove the seeds or any membranes from the chillies.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a dark, thick, sweet Chinese condiment used in recipes such as stir-fries, brushed on to meats before roasting, or as a dip. It is made from toasted pureed soy beans with fennel seeds, red chillies ( although Hoisin is not normally spicy and hot ), vinegar, garlic and Chinese Five Spice. Hoisin translates as ‘seafood’ but does not contain any seafood as an ingredient.

Crispy Spring Rolls
Spring Rolls and Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is used in Cantonese food in dishes such as Char sui pork and as a dip for spring rolls and in the world-famous Peking Duck from the capital of China Beijing. In Vietnamese cooking, Hoisin sauce is a common accompaniment at the table alongside Sriracha for bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup or phở.


“Nutmeg must be able to smell the sea but cloves must see it”

Cloves are a spice that come from the flower buds of a tree originally from Indonesia and are a common ingredient in savoury and sweet recipes in Asian, African and Middle Eastern cuisines. The unopened flower buds are harvested twice a year and then they are dried in the sun. Cloves have a warm, pungent aroma which many people associate with Mulled Wine and Christmas with notes of camphor and pepper. Cloves have a strong, pungent, flavour, and too many can be overpowering. Cloves can sometimes leave a numbing feeling in the mouth due to the active ingredient eugenol and are why people use oil of cloves if they have a toothache.

Whole dried cloves
Whole Cloves

Cloves were only grown in Indonesia until the eighteenth century when Frenchman, Pierre Poivre, carried seedlings to Mauritius where the seedlings flourished.  The plants were then introduced into the East African coast, which is now the largest producer of cloves. The saying “Nutmeg must be able to smell the sea but cloves must see it” is because cloves grow best on islands or near the sea. Cloves can be used either whole or ground in Chinese cooking, apple recipes, traditional baked ham, and pairs well other spices like allspice, bay, cardamom, cinnamon, chillies, fennel, ginger, and nutmeg. Cloves are one of the spices in Garam masala and Chinese five spice.

Star Anise

Whole Star Anise
Star Anise Pods

Star anise is instantly recognisable as the star-shaped spice which is used in many Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Indian dishes. The pods can be used whole, broken into pieces or ground down to a powder and are a key ingredient in Chinese Five Spice. Star anise has a delicious liquorice like aroma and a sweet aniseed flavour which is delicious with fish, chicken, pork and root vegetables. Star anise is often used in combination with other spices and aromatics such as chillies, cinnamon, coriander seeds, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass.

Star anise is the fruit of small, green magnolia trees which are native to South-west China and can bear fruit for 100 years or more. Star anise has been used throughout Chinese history for its culinary and medicinal properties and is still valued in cough syrups and to provide relief from flatulence. The Japanese used to burn the aromatic bark of the tree for incense. Star anise started being used in Europe from the seventeenth century to flavour syrups, cordials and preserves and is still used in western countries today to flavour drinks, and confectionery.


Thai Sriracha Sauce
Sriracha Hot Sauce

Sriracha is a hot chilli-based condiment from Thailand used predominantly in Thai and Vietnamese cooking and used in soups, sauces and as a dip for seafood and spring rolls. It is made from red chillies, garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar. As its popularity has spread the sauce is now used to flavour mayonnaise served with seafood and burgers, as a glaze for grilled bacon and in cocktails. In America, the sauce is commonly known as Rooster sauce from the logo on the most predominant brand available.