In this part of the world, we are accustomed to having chili peppers as one of the many ingredients that make up our dishes. In fact, it is one of the most important spices in the local Malay and Indian cuisine, most notably in curry dishes. The Chinese too, have curry mee, laksa, char kueh teow, and many dishes that utilize the properties of chili to give the dishes a kick.
However, do you know your Chili Peppers?
Clockwise: Habanero, Thai Peppers, Bell Peppers, Jalapeño
The three most common types of chili we consume are the Thai Pepper (Chili Padi), Red Pepper (Cayenne), and Bell Pepper. Most people would correctly identify that the Thai Pepper is the hottest of the three, with Red Pepper slightly milder, and Bell Pepper not hot at all. But did you know the hotness of any particular type of pepper is rated?
Enter the Scoville scale. The idea is simple, a score of 100 in Scoville scale would mean that the extract of the pepper has to be diluted 100 times in sugar water before no hotness is detected. However, modern tests (HPLC) is a bit more technologically advanced and the human factor is removed.
Turns out, while the bell pepper has a score of 0, the red pepper is rated between 30,000 – 50,000. The Thai Pepper though, is rated 2-3 times more, at 50,000 – 100,000 on the Scoville scale. The Jalapeño found in many Mexican food is at 2,500 – 8,000, while Tabasco sauce at 2,500 – 5,000.
If you want to get a bigger kick, try the Habanero, rated 100,000 – 300,000 with the Red Savina variety up to 577,000. I once cooked a pack of Maggie noodle with one of those and ended up feeling like my lips, mouth, tongue, throat, and stomach were burning. It didn’t feel too great going to the toilet 2 days later either.
It was an experience, I didn’t believe it was the pepper at first, and did a confirmation experiment a week later, it wasn’t exactly pleasant to confirm my findings.
You can get Habanero peppers from Cold Storage at Bangsar. I’m not sure if they are readily available anywhere else.
Tips: I find that Chili is usually milder when precipitation level is high while hotter during dryer times. This is probably due to the growth rate of plants.