Chileheads - Wanna learn something new?

Cool new research:

Thanks. To summarize: they store a lot of capsaicin, and the capsaicin are all over the skin, not just the pith.

How do people even use ghost pepper anyway in cooking?

In sauces, dried and ground into powders which are then used too add heat to dishes and in rubs, etc.

We have friends that grow ghost peppers at home. Some of the ways we use them as pureeing them into salsa, simmering them in oil to make a ghost pepper oil, adding a touch of puree to brownie batter, and finely minced fresh peppers on top of deviled eggs.

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Well, I’ll use them in braises like chili or curry. Adding a half or whole bhut or other uber-hot chile.

Last fall, I put up this “recipe” for a ghost pepper cornbread: Hungry Onion Recipe Collection

As you’ll see, I was still of the belief that the capsaicin was primarily retained in the seeds and connective veins then.

“How do people even use ghost pepper anyway in cooking?”

Like this:

I have never tried since I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to spice level. May I ask how ‘challenging’ is it to eat the dishes made with ghost pepper?

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Well, I’d describe it as “an exciting ride on a swell of endorphins and brow sweat,” but that would leave out the little joy of a running nose. I will sometimes tone it down at the “tasting” stage with some coconut sugar if it starts melting the spoon.

That being said, I’d say building a tolerance would be a necessary, preliminary step. Are you comfortable with “Thai spicy” when going out?

If you don’t normally eat spicy foods, you’d probably have difficulty. We do eat spicy foods and even we have trouble sometimes!

Let’s just say habanero is near impossible for me. Thai chili is challenging if used in large quantity. And my understanding is that ghost pepper is even hotter than habanero?

I grow several superhot varieties of chiles such as Ghosts and the Hottest there currently is, the Carolina Reaper. I also grow several varieties of Habaneros, from very hot to “Perfume” varieties which have no heat, but the fabulous habanero floral fruitiness. And around 12-14 types of Cayenne each year.

My innards can’t take huge amounts of capsaicin anymore, although my mouth loves the burn. So I make simple fermented hot sauces, and use that to flavor dishes and add heat in a controlled manor.

To make an incredible fermented hot sauce takes at least a month.

I halve the chiles, wearing plastic gloves, and goggles and mask with the superhots. Then I de-seed and de-vein them. I weigh them and add 5-7% by weight of salt, and sometimes 2-5% sugar, and process very fine in a food processor.

Then I let them ferment in Ball jars with plastic lids (they started selling plastic screw tops for the jars recently), filled to the top, in a dark place in my basement. I seal them loosely at first so gas can escape. I tighten the jars and shake them daily, then loosen the lids again, for the first few weeks. This distributes everything and prevents mold. I have never had mold grow. After a month they are usually fully fermented and you can tighten the lids and let age, or process into the final sauce. I usually take a small amount of starter or an old batch of chile paste to kick the fermentation into action. I also buy a commercial yoghurt that has a large variety of pro-biotics, pour into a paper towel lined strainer over a bowl and let it drain and use the liquid (the whey) to add to the paste after it has fermented for two weeks. This gives the fermentation a bit more zip. I may also add a teaspoon of sugar at the two week point to get the paste to ferment more, and make more lactic acid. This fermented hot sauce paste has great flavor as is, but to make it truly shelf stable I want to raise the acidity slightly. I don’t heat treat this paste at all, it will have enough salt and acidity when finished.

To make the sauce I first make a 2:1 distilled white vinegar:water solution. Then I add this 1:1 to the fermented chile paste, and run for a minute or two on high in my blender. To thicken it, because I like a slightly thick sauce that I can control the pour, I may add a small amount of xanthan gum powder to the sauce while it is in the blender, a tiny bit at a time, like 1/8th teaspoon each time until it is a bit looser than I want. Then one more minute of blending for the shearing action of the blender to fully activate the xanthan gum. I then jar or bottle it. It should have a pH of 3.2 or less, if not I may add some citric acid or more vinegar until it hits this point.

I make several varieties of chile sauce from my peppers. A superhot Ghost sauce, a superhot Carolina Reaper sauce, a very hot habanero sauce, a hot habanero sauce using 1/3 habaneros and 2/3 perfume habaneros, a mixed cayenne using whatever of the 14 types of cayennes, this differs in flavor, but has that characteristic base flavor. I have still to finish off a batch of Thai Dragon chile sauce. This was made with seeds and all, since the peppers are to small to easily de-seed. I just have to finish it off with the vinegar solution and zanthan gum in the blender. It’s been aging at room temp. for around 6-7 months now.

This process of fermenting and finishing the sauce gives you a sauce with all the flavor of the chiles, and nothing else except a bit of acidity from the vinegar to make the flavor pop.

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo