Some like it hot
While chilies are about heat; other cuisines prize chili for their fruity, grassy, vegetal, and even floral flavours
Not a native, but another permanent resident, Chili is an integral part of our local cuisine, but really we are limited in our chili use having green, red and occasionally thai. Other cuisines get more from their chili than we do.
While chilies are about heat, other cuisines prize chili for their fruity,
grassy, vegetal, and even floral flavours. Here’s some chili tips.
Taking the temperature
The heat of a chili is measured in Scoville Heat Units, which quantify the amount of capsaicin—a colorless, flavorless compound found primarily in the ribs and seeds of the fruit.
Scoville rating + Type of pepper
15,000,000–16,000,000 SHU Pure capsaicin
5,000,000–5,300,000 Law Enforcement Grade pepper spray
855,000–1,075,000 Bhut Jolokia (Naga Jolokia) newly discovered Indian chili
876,000–970,000 Dorset Naga
350,000–580,000 Red Savina habanero
100,000–350,000 Guntur Chilli, Habanero chili, Scotch Bonnet Pepper, Datil pepper, Rocoto, African Birdseye, Jamaican Hot Pepper
50,000–100,000 Bird's eye chili/Thai Pepper/Indian Pepper, Malagueta Pepper. Chiltepin Pepper, Pequin Pepper
30,000–50,000 Cayenne Pepper, Ají pepper, Tabasco pepper, Cumari pepper (Capsicum Chinese)
10,000–23,000 Serrano Pepper, Chichen Itza
2,500–8,000 Jalapeño Pepper, Guajillo pepper, Paprika (Hungarian wax pepper), Tabasco Sauce
500–2,500 Anaheim pepper, Poblano Pepper, Rocotillo Pepper,
100–500 Pimento, Peperoncini
0 No significant heat, Bell pepper (capsicum),
Form and function; consider the alternatives; Chilies can be consumed fresh as well as smoked, dried, or ground into powder. Dried chilies taste hotter, since the capsaicin is concentrated in the dehydrated pepper. Many Indian curries and Mexican moles include chili in more than one form; the interplay of flavors and textures makes for a unique complexity.
Taming the beast; For guests who want the flavour but wish to avoid the heat try chilies that have been blanched, pickled, or fried; all three methods neutralize the capsaicin and let the other flavors of the pepper come through. Also it’s true Capsaicin isn’t water soluble; to douse the flames try sour cream or yoghurt, the fat and protein in them subdue the compound.
Just desserts; While most people think of chilies only in savory foods, the cacao-spiked moles of Oaxaca prove they go nicely with Mexico’s other famous culinary contribution: chocolate. Red chili adds another dimension of heat and spice to hot chocolate as well as chocolate desserts. How about emboldening your tropical fruit salad with salt, sugar, and powdered chili pepper.