Some Like it Hot
Posted by by Tim Pohland, category manager, online shopping
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
If you know my eating preferences, you’d never know I was born and raised in Minnesota. What I mean is, I like spicy food. No, not the Minnesota spicy. The “kick you in the rear, smoke coming from your ears, brain scrambling” spicy. When I was younger, there was a store at the Mall of America called Calido Chile Traders. Their specialty was spicy foods; and lots of it. I’d beg my mom to go the MOA just so I could go there and sample all of the spicy treats, from sauces, to salsas…even candies! When I was older, I won the Buffalo Wild Wing Blazing by eating 12 “Blazin’ Wings” in 6 minutes. Tabasco sauce is my favorite condiment. We had a habanero eating contest in culinary school, where I came in second by eating 3 habaneros. You get the picture.
I went to the State Fair this year and in the International Bazaar I came upon a vendor that sold all things spicy. But what he wasn’t selling was what took my breath away. A live Bhut Jolokia (or Ghost Chili) plant. In 2007, Guinness World Records certified the Bhut Jolokia as the world's hottest chili pepper at 1,041,427 Scoville units. A jalapeno comes in at 6,000 and a habanero between 100,000 and 500,000. (A little more on Scoville units below.) I was blown away. The owner made a hot sauce with the chilis and asked me if I wanted a sample. I hesitated for a second but I asked myself when’s the next time I’ll have a chance to try a ghost chili pepper (or a form of it). He dipped a little plastic spoon into the bottle and handed it to me. I could see a little smirk on his face as I’m sure he was thinking “he doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into!” I touched the tip of my tongue and tried just the tiniest bit. It was spicy, but I was a little disappointed. I put the rest of the spoon into my mouth and a split second later the heat started coming. It takes a second or two for you to feel the burn. I realized the burn was from the first tiny taste. My nose started running, my eyes got red and I got the hiccups almost immediately. Ok, this was spicy! It took about 10 minutes for me to regain my normal form, but during that time, my endorphins kicked into overdrive, giving me a feeling of well-being, which is what “Chili-Heads” live for. I thanked the man for the sample but passed on the sauce. Thirty dollars for a 4 oz. bottle was a little too rich for me. Besides, what would I do with it? I decided I’d just stick with my trusty Tabasco sauce.
A little on the Scoville Scale: The Scoville unit is a measurement of the spicy heat of a chili pepper. The number of Scoville heat units indicates the amount of capsaicin present, which is the oil in the chili that causes the heat. In the Scoville method, an alcohol extract of the capsaicin oil from a measured amount of dried pepper is added incrementally to a solution of sugar in water until the "heat" is just detectable by a panel of tasters. The degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale. For instance if a habanero has a rating of 200,000, this indicates that their extract must be diluted over 200,000 times before the capsaicin is undetectable.
One last thing; I recently read that the Ghost Chili isn’t the hottest pepper in the world anymore. In February 2011, Guinness World Records awarded the title of "World's Hottest Chili" to the Infinity Chili grown in Grantham, England. But wait. Just a month ago the current "World's Hottest" was given to the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, officially tested at 1,463,700 Scoville units! Just thinking about this gets my mouth watering. But where does it end?! I doubt it never will, and I love it!
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Peppers
While you won’t find the Ghost Chili peppers in our Lunds and Byerly’s stores, but we do have a nice selection of fresh and dried peppers (habaneros, jalapenos, serranos, etc.). Not to mention our huge selection of spicy sauces, dips, salsas, and even our meat department’s own Fresh All-Natural Mango Habanero Chicken Bratwurst (surprisingly spicy!) And it there’s an item that you can’t find in our store, just talk to one of our employees and they’ll submit it to our Item Request Specialist, If we don’t have it, we’ll help you find it!
Do you cook with peppers? What’s your favorite spicy food?