10 Tips for Cooking with Super Hot Chili Peppers
Super Hot chili peppers are gaining popularity, and that makes us wonderfully happy at Chili Pepper Madness. We love all chili peppers, from the heatless Bell Pepper all the way up to the devastatingly hot Moruga Scorpion which currently tops the scale at more than 2 Million Scoville Heat Units.
What is a Super Hot chili pepper you ask?
The super hot chili peppers are those that go beyond Habanero heat. They push the boundaries of the natural Scoville Scale and make the heat you might encounter with a jalapeno pepper more akin to a mild tickle. These super hots bring spice to a new level.
To put things in perspective, we should discuss the Scoville Scale. The Scoville Unit of measurement was named for Wilbur Scoville in 1912. At the time, he worked for a pharmaceutical company named Parke-Davis where he developed a test called the “Scoville Organoleptic Test” which is used to measure chili pepper heat. You can learn more about the Scoville Scale here. In a nutshell, the higher the Scoville Unit of measurement assigned to a chili pepper, the hotter it is.
The jalapeno pepper typically measures in between 2,500 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) and 8,000 SHU. A Serrano, which is a bit hotter than a jalapeno, measures 5,000 to 23,000 SHU. The Habanero typically measures between 100,000 to 350,000 SHU. That is quite hot. But with super hot chili peppers, you get measurements like so:
- Caribbean Red Habanero: upto 475,000 SHU
- Red Savina: up to 580,000 SHU
- King Naga: up to 800,000 SHU
- Bhut Jolokia (or Ghost Pepper) – 1,000,000+ SHU
- New Mexico Scorpion: 1,191,595 SHU
- Naga Viper: 1,382,118 SHU
- Trinidad Scorpion Butch T: 1,463,700 SHU
- Trinidad Moruga Scorpion: 2,009,231 SHU
- Pepper Spray: Up to 5,300,000 SHU
Pure capsaicin, the chemical in chili peppers that makes your tongue either tingle or screech in fear (depending on the SHU), measures in at 15-16,000,000 SHU.
The fact that these super hots are so hot shouldn’t frighten you away from cooking with them. Aside from their heat, these peppers bring an incredible flavor that you won’t get elsewhere. Many are fruity and a bit citrus-like, yet unique in their own right. Admittedly, you should begin with some milder peppers before embarking on your culinary experimentation with these chilies, but if you have a bit of a tolerance and you’re interested in cooking with them, we have a few tips that may help you.
Cooking with Super Hot Chili Peppers
- Practice Food Safety. The chemical that makes peppers hot, capsaicin, is an oil and will stick to your skin. It is typically best to wear rubber gloves when working with chili peppers if your skin is sensitive. Also, avoid rubbing your eyes or other sensitive areas of your body after handing hot peppers. It doesn’t feel good to get a blast in the eye…or anywhere else tender. Believe me, I’ve heard stories.
- Dilution. If you’re brewing up a large pot of chili, you only need a single super hot to bring in the heat. If you’re worried, try only half a pepper and see how the heat feels. If you’ve cooked in a super hot and just a taste burns off your taste buds, add more chili and dilute the pepper heat. Consider that the 7 Pot Chili Pepper supposedly got its name because it only took one pepper to heat 7 pots, so measure accordingly.
- Remove the Pepper Insides to Tame the Beast. If you deseed and scoop out the inner membrane of the peppers, you’ll have less heat. The vast majority of the capsaicin resides in this whitish membrane. You’ll still have heat, especially with these super hots. As you continue to cook with them, remove less and less of the membrane and eventually include the entire pepper to your preference. Only if you can’t take the heat.
- Keep a Dairy Product on Hand. Dairy counteracts capsaicin, so if the burning sensation overwhelms you, drink milk or dab sour cream on your tongue. It may be wise to begin with a recipe that includes some dairy. I recently made some homemade queso fresco with King Nagas, and the result was a simple cheese with a bit of a kick.
- Consider Flavors. Sure, you’re going to get extra heat with these babies, but super hots are more than just vessels of Satan’s sweat. They taste darned good! I personally enjoy the fruitiness that comes with many of these super hots, which lends perfects to fruit dishes, salsas, sauces and more. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t only about the heat in the chili pepper world. Flavor is of utmost important to most, not counting those in the extreme.
- Build Up Your Tolerance. If you’re still unsure, perhaps start working with something a bit milder, like the Habanero pepper. You will get plenty of heat and some similar flavors from Habanero peppers, though the recipes won’t be exactly the same. The more you eat spicy food, the greater your tolerance for the heat builds, as will your craving for heat most likely. It can be a bit addictive. Believe me, I know. Once you’ve graduated past the Habanero pepper, the super hots might be a great option for you.
- Split the Dish. If you’re like me, you’ll be cooking for people with different heat preferences. Some prefer their meals to be devilishly hot, while other prefer only a twinge of fire. If this is the case, when the dish is nearly done, remove the serving portions for those with a lower heat tolerance then add the super hots into the remaining portion for yourself. This won’t work for every recipe, but it will for many.
- Enjoy the Heat. The point here is not to remove the heat of the super hot chili peppers. The point is to experience the heat. You obviously don’t want to murder your tongue with molten lava, but if you’re experimenting with super hots, you most likely want that blast of heat. Believe me, you’ll get what you ask for. Expect it and enjoy it.
- Prepare for the Next Day. I can only relate this through an anecdote. Recently I took a road trip to Florida and stopped in Georgia for the evening. We dined at the local Wild Wing Cafe where I ordered their Braveheart Wings. These are amazingly hot and made with super hots. The sauce is thick and radiates heat. I muscled through 6 of them, enjoying every minute of it, but wasn’t quite prepared to drive another 700 miles in the morning after my ritual restroom visit. This doesn’t happen every time, mind you, but suffice it to say that sometimes, it’s just as hot going out as it is going in.
- Stock Up on Super Hots. You won’t be finding a huge selection of super hots at your local grocery store. The demand simply isn’t there yet. You can grow them yourself by ordering seeds online, or order the peppers themselves or even plants when they are in season.