Thai Red Chiles, Dried
Although it is hard to imagine Thai food without their heat, chiles (capsicum frutescens) are native to the Americas and were introduced to Asia by the Spanish and Portuguese. These chiles are fruity and quite hot. Dried chiles have a different flavour than fresh, and are often used in preference to, or in addition to, fresh. To prepare, either remove stem and seeds or leave whole, then soak in hot water for 20 minutes. Squeeze dry with paper towels if grinding into a paste. Use in curry pastes, dressings, dipping sauces, sambals, etc. Dried chiles can also be fried in oil (without pre-soaking), to infuse them with a wonderful smoky heat.