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Chili Obsession

May 19th 2016


Chili Obsession

The world is craving heat in a big way. According to the 2014 McCormick Flavour Forecast, the craving for heat is never going away; in fact, it is just going to increase as consumer palates adapt to spicier profiles. The quest is for heat complexity and multi-dimensional flavours – heat that complements or elevates the dish. Heat refers to the burning sensation felt in the mouth and throat, experienced slightly when you eat black pepper or ginger and more intensely with chili peppers like jalapenos or habaneros.

Chefs today are using new and unique chili peppers to spice up their menus with some fiery heat. Whole chilies are particularly used in Indian and Mexican dishes. They give a spicy kick which intensifies with cooking. Other chilies to watch out for:

  • Guajillo – mild Mexican dried chili
  • Chile De arbol – bold Mexican chili
  • Aji amarillo – is a Peruvian pepper
  • Tien Tsin – is a hot sichuan chili pepper

Beyond just discovering new chili varieties, this obsession has extended into using techniques like grilling, smoking, pickling, fermenting and candying to tease out their flavour potential. Use heat as the base and build on the flavour of the chili pepper by adding spices, sweetness, or smoke to achieve flavour complexity.

  • The longer chillies are cooked, the hotter the dish will become
  • Flavour the oil for stir fries by frying one or two whole chilies for a few minutes, then remove before adding the other ingredients.
  • Add to Indian, Mexican and Thai dishes for heat and flavour.
  • Add to marinades for meat and seafood before barbecuing or grilling.
  • Use to add heat to Mexican chili con carne and Portuguese piri piri dishes.
  • Add whole chilies to pickles for extra bite and visual appeal.
  • Whole chilies can be removed at the end of cooking.

Did You Know?

There are over 200 identified varieties of Chilli grown throughout the tropics. In addition there are many local varieties which have not yet been documented. Chillies contain capsaicin which gives them their fiery heat. Depending upon the variety, the heat scale measured in Scoville units, can range from 0-300,000. Chillies were introduced to Europe and India in the 15th and 16th centuries following their discovery in Central America.