How to Cook with Chilli
- Cooks should be considerate when using chilli peppers as an ingredient. Spice should be a flavour enhancer, so save very hot dishes for friends who enjoy a chilli challenge.
- Be careful when preparing chillis. The heat from the juices of the chilli may 'stick' to your fingers, so avoid rubbing your eyes. Wearing disposable gloves can be a good idea.
- The majority of the 'heat' in a chilli is found in the seeds. To decrease/increase the heat of a dish, discard/include seeds.
- Capsaicin, the compound found in chillies that creates the heat, is fat-soluble. Some milk or yogurt is therefore the most effective solution to a ﬁery mouthful; water will not really help.
- The heat in chillies makes you feel good. It stimulates the release of endorphins - the 'happy' chemical produced by the pituitary gland that is also released during strenuous exercise and orgasm.
The Scoville Scale
In 1912, Wilbur Scoville developed a method to determine the heat level in chilli peppers - the greater the number of Scoville Heat Units, the hotter the chilli.
N.B. It is extremely difficult to measure the exact rating of a chilli as it is a natural product and therefore varies greatly.
Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) of
350,000-580,000: Red Savina Habanero
100,000-350,000: Habanero, Scotch Bonnet
100,000-200,000: African Birdseye
30,000-50,000: Ají, Cayenne, Tabasco
0: Bell pepper