Thai Chiles

Photo: Carina Salvi

As a rule, the smaller the chile, the hotter its bite. That’s why you can count on these tiny specimens, also known as bird or bird’s-eye chiles, to pack an outsize punch. Find them in Chinatown and also at the Eckerton Hill Farm and Oak Grove Plantation stands at Union Square Greenmarket. Barehanded and fearless, Kuma Inn’s King Phojanakong pummels them into submission for the delicious condiment he serves with sautéed Chinese sausage and sticky rice, but there’s no shame in wearing gloves and protective goggles.

King Phojanakong’sThai-Chile-Lime Sauce
8 to 10 Thai chiles
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon palm sugar (available at Bangkok Center Grocery, 104 Mosco St., nr. Mulberry St.)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce (available at Bangkok Center Grocery)

Illustration by John Burgoyne

(1) Remove stems from chiles and place in mortar.
(2) Crush chiles with a pestle to make a paste. Add the garlic and palm sugar and grind the mixture well. Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, and a drop or two of water if it looks too thick, then pour mixture into a small serving bowl to serve alongside grilled steak or fish, or just about any other grilled food.

Thai Chiles