A Real-Life Ghost Tale
Americans love Halloween
. Every year, 120 million of us [including lots of people waaaay too old to trick-or-treat] dress up in costumes. We buy 35 million pounds [that's nine billion pieces!] of candy corn every year. And don't get us started on pet costumes
. Seriously. That is truly frightening.
But for some of us, the real thrill doesn't come from a suspenseful movie [though that gives us an excuse for making popcorn with truffle oil
] or from the annual trip to the pumpkin patch. We get our spooky kicks from the aptly named Ghost Chile
. Why does the mention of its name send a shiver down our spines?
BECAUSE THE GHOST CHILE IS THE HOTTEST CHILE IN THE WORLD.
Perhaps the Ghost Chile
was given the name because of the way the heat sneaks up on the one who eats it. Originating from the northeastern part of India, particularly Assam [a name tea-drinkers will recognize] near Bangladesh, Ghost Chile is also called Bhut Jolokia, Bih jolokia ['poison chilli'] or naga Morich chile, among other local names.
Unknown to the western world before 2000, the Ghost Chile
is similar in appearance to the habanero
, but is 2-3 times hotter. This is a serious chile - for point of reference, it is **400 times
** hotter than Tabasco sauce. A jalapeno
pepper rates about 3,000 Scoville* units. A habanero
measures 300,000 Sc. The Ghost Chile
? ONE MILLION SCOVILLE* UNITS.
This Bhut Jolokia Ghost Chile pepper can hurt you
. Wear gloves
or don't touch anything [like your EYES
] you might regret! This chile pepper is so hot, military researchers have experimented with making it into a weaponized pepper-spray grenade
. So, you know, be careful. [And no weapons-making in the kitchen, you guys. Bake Buns Not Guns.]
Okay -- scare tactics aside, the taste of this pepper is worth the danger: the Ghost Chile
gives a smoky intense flavor and insane heat. Ghost chile is best when it's used to spike a chunky salsa, or as a chile oil to drizzle on stews or made into mayonnaise. Mix sparingly
into rice and beans or dress a crunchy taco. We asked our own Chef Amy about other ideas for using Ghost Chiles, and she suggested sauce for homemade ice cream
[recipe on our website], barbecque sauce, in bbq spice rubs and in chili. We've also heard it used in making homemade [very] spicy jerky.
Other uses for the Bhut Jolokia pepper include remedies for maladies
as far-ranging as stomach ailment [!], herpes and depression, and as a remedy to the summer heat -- Ghost Chiles will increase perspiration when ingested. As for us, we prefer to confine our Ghost-Chile-as-controlled-substance
use to culinary applications.
If you're not afraid of ghost [chile]s, try some of our recipes linked in this article, and see if you agree!
*And What Are These Strange Scoville Units of Which You Speak?
The Scoville Scale
, the method of testing a pepper's pungency units invented by Wilbur Scoville in 1912. Mr. Scoville determined his test results by taking the extracts of many types of chili peppers and diluting them in a sugared water solution until none of the heat remained. The testing was accomplished by a panel of 5 "judges" who would taste these solutions and then tell Mr. Scoville when they no longer felt any heat. This testing was very subjective as your can imagine and results were not very consistent.
Even though the individual "hotness" measurements are not scientifically specific, and individual batches or crops of particular peppers can be hotter or milder depending on growing conditions, chile lovers tend to agree on the order of the chile pepper "continuum", if you will. Here is a partial list of the many kinds of chile peppers
we carry at AllSpice
, starting with the mildest and moving towards the hottest: Bell pepper
, New Mexico Chile
, Chile de Arbol
, Thai Chile
, and [drum roll] Ghost Chile
Did You Have Fun At Our Party?
We sure did! For those of you who came by last weekend to help us celebrate our first anniversary, THANK YOU! The Oktoberfest party was [in our very biased opinion] a big success! It was a treat for us to get to host you at the store, and to showcase our ingredients in some of our favorite seasonal recipes.
For those of you who, because of distance, or fabulously full social calendar, couldn't join us, we still say THANK YOU. Our first year in business has far exceeded our ambitious goals -- and it's all because of you, our friends and customers.
Interested in finding out more about the menu, and how we created dishes we served at the Oktoberfest party? Check out our blog, and this article that has links to all our recipes!