There was an excess of organic produce from one of the local farmers, so everything was half price. I stocked up; bought a whole week's worth of vegetables. Then I thought, hmm...how about a steamboat dinner on Saturday night?
So I gathered all the ingredients. Fresh lettuce, cabbage, kangkung, red and green spinach, siu bak choy, two kinds of mushrooms, carrots, spring onion, all organic. My sister brought fishballs, prawnballs, fishcakes and tofu. And rice vermicelli as the filler of the meal.
My husband pointed out we had no sauce for the steamboat, so I decided to try making vinegared chili, one of my favourite condiments. It was my first time making it, therefore I foolishly did not wear gloves, thinking if I had no cuts on my hands, I should be able to take a few chillis, yes? WRONG!
I spent a total of 20 minutes deseeding and cutting the red chilies, and that was enough to do me in. My left hand took the brunt of it, as that was the hand holding the chilies while I held the knife in the other hand. It started as a little sting on my ring finger, so I held that under running water. Then the burn spread to the entire hand. It was excruciating! It literally felt like someone was holding my hand over fire and barbequeing it!
My first plan of action was to google remedies for chili burn. Milk, said the websites. Lactose in milk neutralises capsaicin in chili. So I poured a bowl of milk and soaked my burning hand in it. It worked! The pain went away...for as long as I put my hand in the milk. If I took it out, the pain came back. And the milk stops being effective after about five minutes. Back to google.
Salt. Rubbing salt on it takes the layer of chili oil off, stopping the burn. Rub, rub, scrub scrub. This did nothing but made my hand feel raw. Not good.
My sister said to use olive oil to wash away the chilli oil, then lemon juice to neutralise it. Out came the oil and a lemon. Didn't work.
Now the pain was getting worse, so I drove one-handed to the clinic down the road and waited 30 minutes for the blasted doctor, who had the galls to tell me he didn't have anything for the burn, just some painkillers and a salve! He was useless, so I drove home.
Baking soda. It seems to be a miracle thing, and it was somewhere on google that it helps with chili burn. I poured a handful into a small bowl and made a paste and coated my hand in it. It helped, like the milk, but also like the milk, it stopped working after five minutes. So I threw that out and made a fresh paste. The pain seemed to lessen as I continued. After seven or eight changes of baking soda, I was feeling a bit more human again. I had gone through a whole bag of baking soda, all 600g of it! It has been an hour.
I made one last portion of paste and coated my hands again. My hand was 95% healed. the fingers still felt sore and tingly, but I wasn't in pain anymore.
So, try this remedy for chili burn if you ever get one: make paste out of baking soda and water and coat the affected area in it. Change paste every five minutes or when it stops being effective. Continue until area is healed. You're welcome!
Note: I was in too much pain to take photos of my burning hand. But I'm sure you get the picture.
Now, where was I? Ah yes, steamboat. So after an hour of drama (on my own part. I suffered silently ok?), dinner was ready.
Everything is cooking nicely. Fishballs and mushrooms go in first, vegetables last as the latter cook faster.
Here's the culprit, but it is forgiven for being absolutely delicious!
Here's the recipe for the vinegared chili, which I modified from a recipe book:
Finely grind 600g of deseeded red chili and 8 cloves of garlic. PLEASE WEAR GLOVES WHEN HANDLING CHILI. Put everything in a saucepan, add a cup of apple cider vinegar, 8 tablespoons of sugar (I ran out of sugar and substituted with icing sugar, which worked fine as well) and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to boil. Let cool and store in a clean, dry jar. Spoon the desired amount for meals. You can use it as a condiment for anything you fancy.