As Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and (dare we utter) Christmas roll around once again and the summer heatwave feels like a distant memory, classic winter warmers are popping up all over the place. Roast season has well and truly returned, and soup, casserole, and pie inspiration seem to be saturating social media feeds.
Whilst there’s a reason we turn to comfort food during the colder months, lighter, spicier dishes which use the natural heat of chilli peppers can be a wonderful alternative when you’re in need of a warming pick-me-up.
For those not ‘au fait’ with the world of heat and spice, the infamous Scoville scale, has since 1912 measured the spiciness of different chilli peppers, rating the different varieties by their capsaicin content – the compound that gives chillies their heat. But whilst spiciness is a key component of any chilli pepper – and Scoville’s scale an excellent measuring device – the global heritage of different varieties should also be a key consideration when it comes to choosing your ingredients for cooking.
Some of the most well-known chilli peppers used in global cuisine include:
• Carolina Reaper – Bred in America, the Carolina Reaper is a hybrid of the Caribbean’s ‘La Soufriere’ and Pakistan’s ‘Naga Viper’ pepper – in 2017 it was declared the hottest chilli pepper in the world.
• Chipotle – The Chipotle pepper is simply a dried and smoked jalapeno, the notorious South American chilli used for creating a sweet and smoky flavour in dishes.
• Piri Piri (African Bird’s Eye) – Simply meaning ‘pepper pepper’ in Swahili, Piri Piri (or Peri Peri) peppers are still popular throughout Spain and Portugal and have become a household name thanks to Nando’s iconic sauce.
• Piquillo – Derived from the Spanish for ‘little beak’ these chillies are more sweet than spicy and a firm favourite in Spanish cuisine, particularly tapas.
• Ancho – Another dried variety, the Ancho chilli starts life as a mild Poblano chilli which, when dried, offers a smoky, earthy flavour, found most commonly in Mexican cooking.
• Shishito – The Shishito chilli was originally cultivated in Japan and has a mild taste suited to garnishing and roasting. But beware the 1 in 10 which is uncharacteristically hot, making for spice-fuelled games of roulette in Japan.
• Scotch Bonnet – Used throughout Caribbean cooking and known for giving ‘jerk’ dishes their unique spicy flavour, Scotch Bonnets are incredibly spicy – not for the faint hearted!
We recently worked with McCormick – the spice and flavour experts – to launch Cholula Hot Sauce – Mexico’s number one hot sauce brand – into the UK Foodservice market for the first time. Made with a blend of árbol and piquín peppers – its perfectly balanced flavour makes it a fantastic addition to multiple dishes. To celebrate its versatility, we engaged 11 of the UK’s top chefs to create a unique recipe book, Fusión Mexicana, showcasing its exceptional flavour (more about that here).
Fancy something a little spicy? Why not get inspired to cook with Cholula by downloading your free copy of Fusión Mexicana, here.