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Chillies are a common ingredient in Thai cuisine, although not all dishes are hot. Chillies come in a great variety of sizes, shapes and colours, and are available fresh and dried, as flakes and powder. The most commonly used fresh chillies are bird's-eye chillies--small, thin, green or sometimes red, chillies. Generally, the larger the chilli the milder the flavour--the very tiny red chillies can be very hot. To avoid skin irritation, take great care when seeding or chopping chillies--wear rubber gloves. After handling chillies don't touch your face, eyes or any tender part of the body and always wash your hands thoroughly. If you like a hot curry, leave the seeds in, but if you preder a milder flavour, the seeds can be removed to lessen the heat. Whole chillies freeze well in plastic bags and can be chopped frozen. Some chillies are available dried and are usually soaked in water, to soften, before use.
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