One of the great things about living in the city and being close to Chinatown is the large variety of Asian food and ingredients on my doorstep. I love visiting Paddy’s Markets in Haymarket and seeing the piles of leafy greens, ginger roots, vietnamese mint, thai basil, galangal, dragon fruit, tiny baby eggplants that still look like eggs, and the chillies- so many different types of chillies!
We do grow chillies in the community garden but being popular there are never enough for me to make up a big batch of chilli jam using that source alone. I wait until they appear at the markets super cheap (always in season) then I buy up big! Small birds eye chillies and longer milder chillies. A couple of red capsicums too. Whiz them up in the food processor with some onions and garlic, then boil away with sugar and white vinegar until you have jam! Too easy!
I always bottle this jam in small jars, I’m not really sure why, I think because it makes such a nice gift. Many people haven’t come across chilli jam before so you may need to give them some hints and tips on how to use it- I love it slathered on snags, in a homemade chicken burger with lettuce and mayo, or thrown in a stir fry to create a sauce. There’s something magical about the sweet heat you get from this jam. It has the capacity to lift a dish and enliven it. I love it.
Another reason I love shopping at Paddy’s Markets is the stallholders. I have a couple of stalls I shop from regularly and the ladies who work there fuss over my daughter every single time! She absolutely loves the attention and the pieces of fruit they give her. We head down early in the morning as it can be hard to manoeuvre the stroller through the crowds later in the day and this quieter period is great for chatting to the stallholders while perusing their produce. I leave with a tote bag full of cheap fresh food and a baby daughter covered in remnants of lychee, longan, or cherry!
Chinatown is currently undergoing somewhat of a facelift. There is new street furniture, lanterns, and my favourite thing of all- this fantastic piece of street art Between Two Worlds by Jason Wing. Wing is an Asian-Indigenous artist and this work incorporates symbols from both cultures. My husband and daughter are Indigenous and when my husband and I were first married we lived in China so this work centres on two cultures that play a big part in our lives. I also think the spirit figures are super cute- like glowing kewpie dolls (they light up at night)!