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Apr 10, 2012 08:03 PM

How to "cool" a dish that's too spicy-hot?

Making curries from commercially-available paste, like Mae Ploy, but would like to tone down the "heat" for everyone's taste. I've tried a rue with flour, butter, a little sugar and milk to stretch it out, but that also cuts down on the curry flavor. Any suggestions?

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  1. I think adding anything to "stretch it out", without topping up the spices will result in diluted flavours.
    Reducing the paste a bit and adding extra (not-hot) spices when frying off will help.
    Coconut cream/milk really tones down the heat, but only if its not cooked long.

    1. I will often serve something very spicy with a big scoop of plain yogurt on top. It doesn't make the dish less spicy, but is cooling when you eat some between bites.

      1. Fat, sugar and dairy will all cool the burn of hot spices, but adding them is obviously going to dilute the other ingredients as mentioned. You can counteract by adding in additional aromatics at the beginning of making your curry when you are frying the paste.

        1. There is no good fix. A mediocre fix would be dilution plus adding back in the flavors you want more of.

          The best kind of fat for emulsifying capsaicin is a nut butter (peanut butter, for example), but I doubt that's what you want to add to the dish.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Karl S

            Thanks, all.
            Karl S -- that's an excellent idea. Since some currys, such as Penang, call for crushed peanuts, I can just toss in a big ol' spoonful of peanut butter and not significantly alter the flavor other than a little more 'nut', which might be tasty and even add to the creaminess factor.

          2. Don't change the dish by adding stuff to it, either add less of the paste or serve the dish with sides that cool the heat. I wrote what to do if food is too spicy: