These are not for the faint of heart. Although they can be used for many things, I tend to use the hottest peppers to make hot sauces with (the Chipotle is a great `bridge`between middle and heavy weight and makes an equally good rub as it does a hot sauce).
Don`t be scared by the rising prices here – the increased heat means that you need smaller quantities of the actual pepper. Because of the increasing heat, consider mixing with other, milder peppers to round out flavor with your heat.
Now for the scary news. Consider the following:
- A Jalapeno can range from 3,500 to 5,000 Scoville units. This means that a hypothetical single drop of liquid jalapeno would be about 6-8 times hotter than a drop of liquid green pepper (not meant as a literal example but to illustrate a point).
- A drop of Habanero would multiply the bell pepper by 160 to 540 times hotter.
The point I`m trying to make is not about heat – it`s about the wild range of the hottest peppers compared to others. Jalapenos are of similar heat to one another – Habanero can be drastically different and it`s not safe to assume that you can cook with them by weight.
If you`re going to cook with te hottest peppers, you should ideally taste each pepper before adding it to your recipe. This means eating the peppers straight while cooking. All you need is a tiny bit – but that can be enough to scorch the bravest pallet. If you`re cooking a special meal with the hottest peppers I highly recommend testing and prepping your peppers a day or two early to give your mouth a chance to recover in the event you get a truly hot sample.
($24 per pound)
60,000-100,000 Scoville units
I`ve never met one I didn`t like. These are great in any shape or form and add a real depth to any dish that they are added to. I adore adding them to chilli to add this smoky flavor or adding to meat dishes in winter when I grill far less.
Piquin hot devils
($30 per pound)
70,000-100,000 Scoville units
Hot sauces, salsas, soups – you`re likely trying to avoid eating a hunk of one of these little firecrackers so infusing them in liquid can add a bite without overwhelming. Bring stock to a boil and pour over a few of these in a bowl and allow the stock to absorb the flavor of the peppers (you can use less than a cup for this purpose) and then add it a bit at a time to your main dish to control the heat. It`s kind of like hot pepper tea (similar to how we made our version of liquid smoke earlier this week). Great for infusions in general – try adding it to vinegar or even vodka for a few days and taste the flavor as it progresses. If you`ve added it to vodka you can create a wonderfully spiced Bloody Mary (or a Caesar for us Canadians).
100,000-325,000 Scoville units
Hottt. Rehydrate and create your own hot sauces. A touch of this is an amazing pairing with an oyster – because you need so little to add heat you don`t lose a lot of the flavors of the oyster and add a great bite. Most hot sauce that I add to oysters would drown all flavor before I`d get a bite that I`d want. Grind some into flakes but be careful not to inhale any residual powder as they grind – the heat could easily overwhelm.
That`s the roundup – for now. We`ll add to this dictionary from time to time and share some more – any favourites that we`ve missed out there?
This series of hot pepper posts will beget new content daily for the next week. If you`re looking for all of the articles published so far, click this link. The entire series covers different types of peppers, different uses and some of the myths around spicy food. Hope you enjoy!