Lovers of chilli can be quite fervent about their choice cultivars, variations in smell, taste (sweeter, fruitier or smoky flavour) and heat. In 1912, pharmacist Wilbur Scoville devised a measure of a pepper’s heat by diluting its extract until tasters could no longer detect it. (When diluted tenfold this equalled 10 Scoville units). Nowadays, we know the more capsaicin in the chilli, the hotter it is. The capsaicin content is measured directly and converted to Scoville units.
'Meet Ben Cooper, our resident chef who is enthused by fresh ingredients and has a fiery passion for chilli peppers. He shares recipes to set your taste-buds a-tingling on a hot date.
Crab Cakes with a simple chilli jam (serves 2)
For the chilli jam115g jam sugar with added pectin
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1-2 long red chillies, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1
1cm piece of chunk fresh ginger, peeled and grated
For the crab cakes50g white crabmeat
50g brown crabmeat
100g raw peeled king prawns (or other peeled raw prawns)
1 tsp Thai green curry paste
2 tsp corn-flour, plus 1 tbsp extra for dusting
3 spring onions, finely sliced
15g fresh coriander, leaves finely chopped
3 tbsp sunflower oil, for frying
flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
lime wedges and fresh coriander, to serve
- For the chilli jam dipping sauce, put the sugar, vinegar and 100ml/3½fl oz water in a small saucepan and gently heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Add the chilli, garlic and ginger and bring to the boil. Cook for three minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into two heatproof serving bowls. It will thicken as it cools.
- To make the crab cakes, put the crabmeat, prawns, curry paste, corn-flour and a couple of really good pinches of flaked sea salt and a few twists of ground black pepper into a food processor. Blend until well combined, pushing the mixture down from time to time with a spatula. Don’t over-blend the mixture as it will be difficult to shape into crab cakes
- Remove the blade and transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the spring onions and coriander until evenly mixed. Sprinkle a small baking tray with the extra tablespoon of corn-flour.
- Wet your hands under the cold tap to stop the crab cakes from sticking. Take a small handful of the mixture – about the size of a golf ball. Roll into a neat ball then flatten until around 1.5cm/¾in thick and 6cm/2½in in diameter. Place on the cornflour-dusted tray. Continue rolling and flattening the mixture until you have made 6 crab cakes.
- Pour the oil into a non-stick frying pan and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add three of the crab cakes and cook for two minutes on each side or until lightly browned and cooked throughout. Transfer to a warmed plate while the rest are cooked.
- Divide the crab cakes between two large plates or small platters. Add a dish of the chilli jam to each one and garnish with lime wedges and sprigs of fresh coriander to serve.
Hi, I’m Benjamin Cooper and I’ve been working at JustSeed Limited since August 2017. I hope to share my culinary experience and inspire you to try different recipes with herbs, salads and vegetables that you can grow from seed.
I am a chef by trade and have been since 1993. I have worked in private hospitality suites in venues which include Lord’s Cricket Ground, Ascot Racecourse and Sandown Park where I cooked breakfast for the Queen Mother!
When living in Sheffield I was Head Chef at a Tapas Bar and proprietor of an outside catering business providing catering for garden parties, weddings and events. Whilst I was in Sheffield I wanted to give support and time to help the vulnerable and homeless so I helped to pioneer the Good News café, which served a cooked breakfast every Saturday morning. Latterly I have been Sous Chef at St Edward’s independent boarding school, Oxford before moving to Wrexham, where I am now working at JustSeed Limited.
I am keen to bring together my experience as a chef and hope you benefit from these recipes. I’m excited by the difference these recipes may have on your culinary palette.