When many of us think of a jalapeno pepper, we immediately think about spicy foods. The reality of the jalapeno pepper is that it really is not as spicy as many of us think it might be. There are plenty of peppers grown all around the world that put the jalapeno pepper to shame in terms of their ‘hotness’.
The spiciness of a pepper can actually be measured. There is a chemical compound found in peppers called capsaicin which is what causes the stinging sensation that we commonly associate with spicy foods. The Scoville Scale actually measures the amount of capsaicin found in peppers. For comparison, capsaicin in its purest form has a Scoville rating of between 15 and 16 million. A jalapeno pepper has a rating of just 2,500 to 8,000.
Keeping the Scoville Scale in mind, let us take a look at some of the spiciest foods in the world that incorporate blazing hot ingredients. India is known for a number of spicy meals including Vindaloo. This meal involves a spicy hot curry which is made from a variety of different chilli peppers and an assortment of spices. A meat such as pork is typically marinated in a sauce of vinegar and wine and then added to the curry sauce. Rice is served with the Vindaloo in an effort to help cool the mouth during the meal.
Thailand is well known for its Tom Yum Soup. This meal is generally made with shrimp, fish, and chicken which is added to a broth made from a number of ingredients. Expect to find everything from lime and fish sauces to lemon grass and ginger in the broth. The element that makes the meal impressively spicy is the chilli peppers which are crushed and added to the broth. The result is a combination of sour and spice which is widely popular in the country.
China is home to the Sichuan hot pot. This is served in a manner similar to fondue. A large pot contains a boiling broth such as chicken or vegetable. Added to this broth are Sichuan peppers. Each piece of raw food that is cooked in the Sichuan hot pot absorbs the spicy hot flavour of the broth. This meal can easily make the people consuming it sweat.
Although Vindaloo, Tom Yum Soup, and the Sichuan hot pot are all incredibly spicy, none compare to the Caribbean’s Jerk Chicken. Originating in Jamaica, this meal requires that meats are prepared with a dry rub consisting of ingredients such as garlic, scallions, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The secret ingredient in the dry rub is known as the Scotch Bonnet Pepper. This particular variety of pepper is flaming hot and carries a Scoville rating of between 100,000 and 350,000. This is comparable to the formidable habanero chilli pepper.
Although not quite as spicy as Jerk Chicken, Malaysia’s Devil’s Pork Curry will certainly not disappoint. This is a stir-fry meal which is prepared with items such as shallots and garlic. The ingredient that makes it spicy is the Thai Chilli pepper which has a Scoville rating between 50,000 and 100,000. Other peppers with similar fire include the pequin pepper and the malagueta pepper.
Malaysia is known for another spicy dish called Guali telur. This is a curry used with hard-boiled eggs which is flavoured with a large number of red chilli peppers. Other ingredients such as coconut milk and ginger are also added to the curry.
In New Orleans you will find a number of Creole meals which will light your mouth on fire. Shrimp Creole is very popular and it is produced by combining ingredients like onions, tomatoes, shrimp, and sausage together. There are two primary spicy ingredients used in this meal which are Tabasco and cayenne pepper. Both items rate between 30,000 and 50,000 on the Scoville Scale.
Although the origins of Chilli are disputed, it can easily be considered as one of the spiciest meals around. As its name suggests, Chilli can contain a variety of different peppers and items. Some versions include beef while others do not. There are recipes that include milder versions of peppers while others demand the habanero. Always pay attention when ordering this meal as you might end up with a bowl of chilli that will make your eyes water with just the smallest bite.
A list of spicy meals is not complete without India’s Phaal. This meal features a thick, spicy curry sauce which is practically guaranteed to make you sweat while you eat it. The secret ingredient in the curry sauce is the elusive bhut jolokia chilli pepper. This particular chilli pepper is known as the nala jolokia or the ghost pepper. It is considered to be the spiciest chilli pepper in the world. The bhut jolokia carries a freighting Scoville rating of 1 million. Only the smallest portion of this pepper is needed to add spice to an entire meal.
Chicken wings are popular in several locations around the world today. You can eat them with a sweet sauce although they are traditionally served with a hot sauce. In fact, there are hot sauces today that contain pure capsaicin which means you likely will not find a meal hotter than chicken wings smothered in one of these sauces. Some restaurants that serve these super hot chicken wings turn it into an event if someone actually finishes an entire serving.
If you are looking for the spiciest foods imaginable, make sure that they are prepared with fresh chillies instead of powder. In their powdery form, chillies lose the full impact of that stinging sensation that you feel when you eat them.
Spicy foods certainly do not appeal to everyone. Many of us look at spicy foods and wonder how or why anyone would eat them. It might be surprising to learn that spicy foods can have a number of benefits. Certain cultures rely on the ghost pepper to ease an upset stomach while others eat spicy peppers to speed up their metabolism.
Have you had any of the meals above? Are they hot or just fairly mild? Let us know what the hottest meal you’ve ever had is: