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How to control amount of chili


Mibr01ac
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Hi all,

I often find it hard to control amount of chili to put in soups and braise dices. I find that the type of chili, the other ingrediense in the dish and the time you leave the chili in affect the chili power of the dish. This result in my dishes often being too strong to weak. I often try to add more chili in the end but I don't think it give the same result as if I leave the right amount of chili in the dish to start with.

Do anyone have any suggestions to technics I can use?

I have tried to search on the internet but couldn't find any guidance.

Than you in advance.

Michael

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Uh...not sure where to start but...

First, know the heat of the chiles you're putting in. If they're jalapeños, know they aren't very hot. Serranos, a bit hotter. Thai chiles, much hotter, etc. If it's chile powder or generic dried red chiles, try a tiny bit to see how hot it is.

I haven't found the other ingredients to affect the heat, only the ratio of chile added to the overall dish, and how hot the chiles themselves are. If using fresh chiles or whole dried ones, obviously if you leave them in for the entire length of cooking, it will be hotter. For chile powder, you obviously can't remove it, once it's in, it's in.

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Chili powder can be JUST powdered chilis, or it can be a mix of chili peppers, cumin, black pepper, oregano, etc. Obviously, they're not interchangeable! Whole peppers, fresh or dried, have most of the heat in the seeds and white membranes inside. Remove those, and you have effectively tamed the pepper.

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Can't add much, but I would advise you to get a good guide to chiles. Online is probably easiest, but there are good books out there. Be sure that the guide you use includes the Scoville rating (heat) of each chile, as well as suggested ways to use that particular chile to best advantage.

One rule of thumb that has served me well is that when it comes to chiles, size matters. Generally speaking, the smaller, the hotter. Big bell peppers, for example, are very mild. Jalapenos are average heat. Little serranos are hotter.

I don't think there is any sort of exact "tried and true" method when it comes to adding chiles. Or if there is, I sure haven't found it. It's just a matter of experimenting and discovering what you like, and even then, you can't count on it.

I've grown chile peppers and often the heat levels vary considerably, even with chiles from the same plant. They're organic, after all, so nothing regarding them is an exact science. My method is to add the smallest amount that I think is appropriate, and then taste and add and taste and add. As many times as I've made my table salsa, and I'm sure it numbers in the thousands, I never just count the peppers and add. I will say that I think you can "smell" heat. If I have any doubt as to how hot a chile is, I do smell it.

Chile powders seem more uniform, and they are, but even they can vary. I've bought 100% New Mexico Red Chile Powder (a personal favorite) that definitely was hotter or milder than previous packets or jars of what was supposed to be the exact same stuff.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I've grown chile peppers and often the heat levels vary considerably, even with chiles from the same plant. They're organic, after all, so nothing regarding them is an exact science. My method is to add the smallest amount that I think is appropriate, and then taste and add and taste and add.

Exactly!

You must season to taste...there is no other way.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Michael, it would be easier to help if you gave us a few examples of what dishes you're making. And what chiles you're using, i.e., what varieties, fresh vs. dried, whole vs. pulverized, etc.

Broadly speaking, chiles bring both flavor and heat to a dish. The former usually is pretty consistent, the latter (as others have mentioned) less so. Generally I develop recipes with an eye to flavor, then adjust heat at the end. My favorite tool for adjusting heat is an augmented Sriracha which I always have on hand. This is the familiar bottle with a rooster label - a consistent product with a clean, unobtrusive flavor - to which I add a little Dave's Insanity sauce (1 tbsp for half-litre bottle) to bring up the heat without adding flavor. It's then a simple matter to add a bit of this, 1/2 tsp at a time, until the dish hits the desired heat level.

There are other ways to do this, but that's the one I use the most. I (and others) might have other suggestions depending on what dishes we're talking about.

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Lately, the jalapenos we're getting in the market are as bland as bell peppers, no heat at all. Very frustrating. But just to keep things interesting, every now and then one will be super hot.

it just means that you are not living in the tropical/equatorial countries which have only 3 seasons, hot, hotter and hottest.:-))

i believe hot peppers/chillies need a hot (high temperature) period to produce consistently hot peppers. I have grown them from seeds of thai bird chillies that were labelled as product of thailand, and they lose their heat towards the end of summer, especially if there had been a cold spell.

to get chillies of consistent heat, one solution would be to buy chillies imported from tropical countries, eg bird chillies. that are actually imported from thailand. For Jalapenos, perhaps imported from mexico?

It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.

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one solution would be to buy chillies imported from tropical countries, eg bird chillies. that are actually imported from thailand.

No. That won't work either. A bunch of Thai bird peppers (I much prefer the Thai name - mouse shit peppers) bought in Thailand will be mostly hot (depending on your reference scale). A few will be as hot as regular Wrigley's chewing gum and one or two will blow your brains apart.

They are unpredictable creatures wherever they come from.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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The pungency (spicy heat) level is mostly a factor of genetics.

There's been a lot of breeding of mildly pungent jalapeños in recent years....TAM Mild Jalapeño is a good example while Biker Billy Hybrid from Burpee is a good example of a cultivar that's more pungent than average.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Another significant variable in pepper heat is apparently plant stress. The newspapers had several articles in the summer of '12 about peppers being much hotter than usual because of drought in the growing regions. You could get some feisty jalapeños in grocery stores not known for having them. As said above, this year everything is mild again.

I too am in the flavor first camp. Chiles are about the flavor, and the flavor controls the amount of chile. Long ago I stopped asking for "hot and spicy" versions of dishes in, say, Indian and Thai restaurants because the dish would come out bitter and unbalanced because the chili overload. Likewise, in many chain restaurants, it's usually unwise to order anything purporting to have habaneros. I've seen it happen many times: the dish is great when it is first rolled out, and then later all the habanero flavor goes away. When I ask why, I am always told that people complained about the heat and management dialed it back to mild jalapeño level. It doesn't take much habanero to do that, so away goes the flavor. I want to scream at those people.

At home, I do just what bear does: add mildly flavored chile sauce with good heat. I made my own.

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When I want plenty of chile flavor and not so much heat, I either use a variety that doesn't carry much heat in the first place, or I do remove the veins wherein lies the capsaisin that produces the heat.

Since my table salsa gets consumed by children, I'll often roast about a dozen jalapenos, remove the seeds and veins, toss them into the food processor. A little bit of kick, but not much. And plenty of chile flavor. Then I'll roast and add a couple of habaneros and maybe a serrano or two into a second batch for the grownups.

I note the OP is a Dane living in London.

I, too, wonder which chiles he's using, and are they fresh, dried, smoked, tinned...and what sort of dishes he's creating...Indian, Thai, Mexican, Korean?

I love those little bags of dried red peppers that I get in the Asian supermarkets. Put them into things like bulgogi, etc.

As pbear says, it would be helpful to know what the OP is working with, and towards.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Hi guys,

Thanks for chipping in. In this case i was cooking chili con carne.

I think the trick, as a user wrote, is to season and taste. I do that with other herbs as well. I just found that the "power" of the chili gets a bit more incorporated in the dish if one cook the dish with the chili from the start.

By the way i politely disagree that chili has taste. I think it is pretty taste less, unlike peber, it however adds strengths.

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By the way i politely disagree that chili has taste. I think it is pretty taste less, unlike peber, it however adds strengths.

This may be part of your problem. The nuances of fruity, sweet, sharp, to just start on the shades and differences, are myriad and fantastic. If you are using chili only for heat you may have not been exposed to the panorama of their tastes. Perhaps a chili tasting is in order?

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Chile peppers contribute significant flavors to dishes. A number of regional dishes owe their unique flavors to specific chiles. Bell peppers are a type of chile, and have flavor. Red and green bell peppers have different flavors. Jalapeños and habaneros taste very different. There are a zillion peppers

Are you talking about dried chile peppers? You might have old ones or ones improperly stored. Then they might indeed have little flavor.

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By the way i politely disagree that chili has taste. I think it is pretty taste less, unlike peber, it however adds strengths.

I'd say this is true of dried cayenne and some paprikas (the inferior ones). But there are a lot of chiles with distinctive flavors, IMHO. What are you using? Frankly, I have no idea what varieties are available in the UK. I live in San Francisco, where there are plenty of options, both fresh and dried. It's no exaggeration to say that I generally have on hand about two dozen varieties of dried chiles and can get as needed another dozen fresh ones. And there are many more, both fresh and dried, which are sometimes but not always available. This may be the reason for our difference of opinion.

I agree there's a cook out effect for chiles, which is why I use the augmented Sriracha mentioned above to adjust spiciness at the end. Because it's a sauce, the heat is "ready to go" and doesn't need to be cooked out.

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thanks again for your comments. Like the comments with a potential chili disorder. Im stilled not convinced about the taste/flavour of chili it was however just a side remark.

Have a great day to all :))

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. . . . Im stilled not convinced about the taste/flavour of chili . . . .

Popular sadist Chili Klaus disagrees (klik/kik her)!

So do I.

And, prompted by this topic, I recently had this discussion with my boyfriend (incidentally, also Danish), and by way of demonstrating that chilies do have actual flavour (and that their heat often masks flavour nuances, which are difficult to discern when your head is in flames), halved one of the eleventy-zillion arbol chilies from our insanely prolific plants, stripped out all the seeds and white membranes, and snipped it into small pieces. Although still distinctly hot, eating this is an entirely different experience than that of eating pieces of the whole chili.

I recommend giving this approach a go, since you'll very likely find a great new range of flavour, while tempering the heat. Worst case scenario, you hop around for a quarter of an hour with your eyes and nose streaming, cursing me and the chilies, and get to say 'I TOLD you so!' ;)

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Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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thanks again for your comments. Like the comments with a potential chili disorder. Im stilled not convinced about the taste/flavour of chili it was however just a side remark.

Have a great day to all :))

To put this in perspective, my recipe for chili con carne uses 8 tbsp (40 g) pulverized spicy new mexico chiles for two pounds meat, whereas my pork vindaloo for the same weight uses 1 tbsp cayenne. The latter is easily ten times spicier than the former, but the former is easily ten times more flavorful (if one considers only the flavors of the chiles).

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I recommend giving this a go, since you'll very likely find a great new range of flavour, while tempering the heat. Worst case scenario, you hop around for a quarter of an hour with your eyes and nose streaming, cursing me and the chilies, and get to say 'I TOLD you so!' ;)

As long as we're on the subject, should you find yourself with a mouthful of fire, even better than hopping around streaming and cursing, grab a spoonful of sugar. Nothing neutralizes the capsaicin better.

I have a nephew that is one of those heat-mad chile-heads that carries around a bottle of Mad Dog in his pockets. His wife has no tolerance at all for this sort of heat. Like most folks with a high heat tolerance, he is incapable of judging what anyone else might find "hot." So, he's forever sticking a forkful of food in her face while saying, "try this, you'll like it, it's not hot at all."

This created a great many unfortunate scenes in various restaurants, until I told her the sugar trick.

Now, she carries around packets of sugar and, as the fork comes nearer, pulls out one and has it at the ready.

Just in case.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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One technique you might try - for braised dishes slice chiles (fresh or dried) in half lengthwise. The chile heat will build as the dish braises. Taste as you go and remove the chiles when the dish reaches your preferred heat level.

i think that is the best recommendation for the OPs quest in how to get consistent and repeatable chilli heat (scoville units?) in his/her soups/braises. I started a reply but dumped it when i read yours ;-)) The only thing i can add is to stay with one or 2 types of chillies until he/she gets to know them, and perhaps put the chillies in a tea bomb or cheesecloth bag for easy removal.

. . . . Im stilled not convinced about the taste/flavour of chili it . . . .

that chilies do have actual flavour (and that their heat often masks flavour nuances, which are difficult to discern when your head is in flames), halved one of the eleventy-zillion arbol chilies from our insanely prolific plants, stripped out all the seeds and white membranes, and snipped it into small pieces. Although still distinctly hot, eating this is an entirely different experience than that of eating pieces of the whole chili.

yes, chillies do have actual flavor, but in quite a lot of recipes, especially asian, it is seldom used on its own, but in combination with other highly aromatic herbs and spices. In thai curries for example, the use of galangal, lemon grass, garlic, even coconut milk is enough to mask any of the flavors chillies may have. .

It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.

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. . . . Im stilled not convinced about the taste/flavour of chili it . . . .

Popular sadist Chili Klaus disagrees (klik/kik her)!

So do I.

And, prompted by this topic, I recently had this discussion with my boyfriend (incidentally, also Danish), and by way of demonstrating that chilies do have actual flavour (and that their heat often masks flavour nuances, which are difficult to discern when your head is in flames), halved one of the eleventy-zillion arbol chilies from our insanely prolific plants, stripped out all the seeds and white membranes, and snipped it into small pieces. Although still distinctly hot, eating this is an entirely different experience than that of eating pieces of the whole chili.

I recommend giving this approach a go, since you'll very likely find a great new range of flavour. Worst case scenario, you hop around for a quarter of an hour with your eyes and nose streaming, cursing me and the chilies, and get to say 'I TOLD you so!' ;)

If you rotovap chillis, the capsaisan does not evaporate so your distillate contains the flavor of chilis without any of the heat. This is an easy way to prove that chilis have flavor beyond heat.

PS: I am a guy.

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One technique you might try - for braised dishes slice chiles (fresh or dried) in half lengthwise. The chile heat will build as the dish braises. Taste as you go and remove the chiles when the dish reaches your preferred heat level.

i think that is the best recommendation for the OPs quest in how to get consistent and repeatable chilli heat (scoville units?) in his/her soups/braises. I started a reply but dumped it when i read yours ;-)) The only thing i can add is to stay with one or 2 types of chillies until he/she gets to know them, and perhaps put the chillies in a tea bomb or cheesecloth bag for easy removal.

. . . . Im stilled not convinced about the taste/flavour of chili it . . . .

that chilies do have actual flavour (and that their heat often masks flavour nuances, which are difficult to discern when your head is in flames), halved one of the eleventy-zillion arbol chilies from our insanely prolific plants, stripped out all the seeds and white membranes, and snipped it into small pieces. Although still distinctly hot, eating this is an entirely different experience than that of eating pieces of the whole chili.

yes, chillies do have actual flavor, but in quite a lot of recipes, especially asian, it is seldom used on its own, but in combination with other highly aromatic herbs and spices. In thai curries for example, the use of galangal, lemon grass, garlic, even coconut milk is enough to mask any of the flavors chillies may have. .

In a great many Mexican dishes, however, the flavor of the chile is the main component. The chile flavor is the star. And often the dish itself is quite mild, with little to no heat.

In that case, you'll see the folks that prefer the heat add it at the table, either with a plethora of favorite hot sauces, or fresh peppers, or salsas.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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