In culinary use, Chili Peppers can be roughly grouped as mild (0 – 2500 SHU), medium (2500 – 30000 SHU), hot (30,000 – 100,000 SHU) and superhot. SHU or Scoville Heat Units are a measure of the level of capsaicin in that chilli variety. Capsaicin, a natural neurotoxin causing burning sensation and pain in humans. is the pungent chemical used in its purest form in pepper spray.
Choosing your variety or cultivar of chilli pepper depends not only on your tolerance to heat but your culinary use. They come in all shapes and sizes; short and fat, long and thin, spicy, smoky or fruity. Mostly added for their pungent flavour, the smaller, thin walled, spicy types are used in Far Eastern and Asian cuisine. The fleshier types are fried or stuffed or added to salads.
Mild chili peppers, with their subtle heat, are becoming a versatile addition into raw salads and lunchtime menus. Renowned for their vibrant flavours and gentle kick, these peppers bring a delightful zing without overwhelming the palate.
From tossing “Aji Delight” into crisp salads for a hint of warmth to “Padron” for tasty tapas, mild chili peppers prove that spicing things up can be both subtle and sensational in our everyday cooking.
Infusing both heat and flavour, medium-hot chili peppers have found their niche in our cuisine. For example, the Jalapeno, neither too mild nor too intense, elevates many recipes, offering a delightful kick without overpowering the dish. From stir-fries and soups to sauces and marinades, medium-hot chillies such as “Hungarian Black” or “Madre Vieja” provide a dynamic ingredient, appealing to those who crave a bit of spice in their meals without going to extremes.
Exploring the world of hot chillies is like holding a "Basket of Fire”. Each fiery contender brings its unique taste to the table. "Hot Lemon" adds a zesty citrus twist to the heat; "Chinese Wraith" delivers an intriguing fusion of spice and depth, meanwhile, "Orange Tyger" roars with a sweet and intense heat, creating fruity and fiery notes. Whether sliced into salsas, incorporated into marinades, or infused into hot sauces, hot chillies create a bold culinary experience, leaving a lingering warmth whilst adding a tingling edge to your favourite recipes.
Enter the realm of superhot chillies with caution, as these fiery peppers pack an intense punch that can ignite your taste buds and challenge even the most seasoned spice enthusiasts. Known for their scorching heat levels, ranging from the infamous Carolina Reaper to the “Trinidad Moruga Scorpion”, these peppers demand respect in the kitchen. A tiny amount can transform a dish, sending your taste buds on an exhilarating journey through intense spiciness. When handling superhot chillies, wear gloves, (don’t touch your face) and be mindful of the quantities used, unless you're prepared for an inferno of flavour that will leave a lasting impression. Proceed with caution!