Chilli boh is simply blended chillies made into a paste to be added to dishes such as fried rice or noodle dishes. Traditionally, ‘cili boh’ or also known as ‘cili giling’ is made using dried chillies. As they spoil easily, store-bought chilli paste is said to contain boric acid or colouring to enhance its appearance and extend shelf life. Hence, it is best to have homemade chilli boh instead. This recipe also provides tips on how to extend the shelf life of the chilli paste.
Where can I buy chilli boh?
Chilli boh is easily available in wet markets as well as supermarkets in Southeast Asia. However, they are difficult to get in other countries especially in Europe. Instead of giving in to frustration of not getting a hold on it when you need, opt to make your own instead. It is very easy and only uses minimal amount of ingredients.
Can I use fresh chillies to make chilli boh?
Yes, of course. However, traditional chilli boh uses dried chilies as they are more intense and fragrant.
What type of dried chillies should I buy?
Dried chillies used are usually imported from India like Guntur, Kashmiri or Byadagi. If possible, get dried chillies which are ca. 7 cm or longer as short dried chillies are very spicy. Learn how to pick dried chillies here.
The secret to long lasting chilli paste
Blending dried chillies until smooth can be tough as they will need some liquid ease the process. While you may be very tempted to add water, avoid doing so as it can spoil the paste. The only liquid you should add is oil. Don’t worry about adding too much oil. Since cili boh will usually be sautéed in oil when used in recipes, the oil will be separated when the paste is cooked. You can then discard the excess oil.
Why does the colour of the chilli paste change during blending?
The blades in the blender breaks the oil fats into small droplets, resulting in an emulsion process. That’s because the chillies have been previously soaked in water. This causes the colour of the paste to be slightly lighter than store bought chilli paste. Leaving it untouched for a few hours will cause its colour to darken, looking similar to the hot paste that we all know.
Can I freeze chilli boh?
You may freeze the chilli paste, of course! In fact, I usually prepare a big batch and freeze it in silicon ice cube moulds so that I will always have chilli boh whenever the need arises.
You may also refrigerate chilli paste for up to 1 month if kept in a clean and dry bottle.
Less spicy chilli boh
The crucial ingredient to making good chilli boh is the dried chillies. In Germany, the dried chilies sold are often very spicy. Choose dried chillies which are straight and generally large in size. Removing the seeds and the accompanying membrane which the seeds are attached to help to lessen the spiciness. Optionally, you can boil the dried chillies with vinegar to minimize the spiciness and also to further extend the shelf life of the chilli boh. Learn more here to see how the seeds are removed and further processed to reduce its spiciness.
Recipes using dried chilli paste or chilli boh
As mentioned, chilli boh is added to dishes to make them spicy. Example of recipes using chilli boh are char kuey teow (stir-fried flat rice noodles), Penang Hokkien mee (Prawn Noodles)or USA fried rice.