Spicy foods are delicious, and many are easy to prepare. But sometimes even the most adventurous of chefs finds a dish to be too hot for consumption. Whether you’ve accidentally over-seasoned your entree, or you’re serving guests who can’t take the heat, you can use one of several methods to make food less spicy and salvage your meal.
Increase Other Ingredients
One easy way to reduce spiciness in your favorite recipe is to increase the not-so-spicy elements. When your chili is too spicy, add additional bland ingredients such as unseasoned, browned ground beef and kidney beans. If you’ve over-seasoned your stir-fry, add another cup of unseasoned meat, vegetables or white rice. Dice up another tomato and add a bit more cilantro to an overly spicy salsa to even it out and tame the heat.
Sweeten It Up
Sometimes a little sweetness is a quick fix for hot and spicy dishes. If you’ve put too much hot sauce in your wing dip, add a bit of honey to offset the heat. When crushed red peppers overpower your arrabbiata sauce, combat the spiciness with a bit of sugar. Try adding a teaspoon at a time so as not to over-sweeten it, and taste your sauce in between each addition. Take a bite of a plain saltine cracker and a sip of water to cleanse your palate between samples.
Acidic ingredients can also be used reduce spiciness in foods; some commonly used additives are lime juice and vinegar. Try a squirt of lime juice to tame a spicy salsa. Some crushed pineapple will virtually disappear — along with the spiciness — when cooked into a pasta sauce. Lemon juice and vinegar help reduce the heat of spicy Asian dishes such as Mongolian beef or Kung Pao chicken. Add a little at a time until you’ve achieved desired results.
Even if you can’t remedy that spicy dish in the kitchen, all hope is not lost. You can still enjoy your hot spicy dish with a few cooler garnishes at the table. A dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt for dipping is a cool distraction for your tongue. A more flavorful option is ranch dressing. No matter what spicy dish you’re serving, a tall cool glass of milk to wash it down definitely soothes the taste buds.
References and ResourcesChefTalk: When Things Go Wrong a Guide to Fixing Kitchen Disasters
Serious Eats: What to Do When You Add Too Much Spice
ResourcesThe Kitchn: 15 Basic Ingredients for Cooking All Kinds of East Asian Food
Hellawella: Quick Fixes for 6 Common Cooking Mistakes