If you’re a pepper aficionado, chances are you’ve heard about the legendary ghost pepper. Cultivated in rural parts of India, the Bhut Jolokia, or ghost chili, is one of the hottest peppers out there. In terms of Scoville heat units (the ranking system used to measure spiciness) the ghost pepper’s score of one million ranks below straight pepper spray and… that’s about it. There was even a (dangerous and not recommended) YouTube trend involving brave (insane) individuals attempting to eat an entire ghost pepper. Side effects ranged from profuse sweating and crying to writhing in agony.
Now this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some ghost pepper recipes. It’s all in how you utilize the intense spice. Some brave connoisseurs like to shave the pepper into razor thin slices as a garnish for different Latin and Indian dishes. There are also a wealth of ghost pepper oils, extracts, sauces, flakes, and dried ground varieties to utilize in your ghost pepper recipes. Don’t be fooled though; these varieties have just as much potency as the real thing in a more easily manageable package. Never give ghost pepper to an unsuspecting guest or apply the pepper in any iteration directly to your skin. Take however much you want to add to your dish, and then halve that, and that’s how much you should use. Trust me, it will still be enough to knock you off your chair. The following are some excellent ghost pepper recipes you can use to get your feet wet.
Ghost Pepper Salsa
Let’s start with the obvious – ghost pepper salsa. If you’re using dried chilies or chili flakes, refrigerate them the night before so they can rehydrate and get soft. If you’re using a ghost pepper extract such as a chili oil, then you can simply pour a dollop in while mixing ingredients. Prepare a simple salsa with fresh diced tomatoes, onions, lime juice, garlic, and a bit of cilantro to counteract some of the ghost pepper heat. Homemade tortilla chips are a nice touch, sliced and thrown in the oven while you’re whipping up your salsa. Be sure to serve with an ample side of sour cream in case some of your more cowardly guests need a break from the heat.
Ghost Peppers in Red Beans and Rice
Hailing from the great state of Louisiana, one of my favorite meals of all times is a hearty portion of red beans and rice. The addition of ghost peppers to this classic Cajun dish takes it over the top! While your white rice is boiling you can cook the dried red beans, sausage, onions, garlic, a little ghost pepper, and any other veggies you’d like to add (I prefer celery and lots of green herbs) in a large greased skillet. Add some chicken stock, cover, and let the flavors stew. Pour the beans over your cooked rice and voila! Red beans and rice with a powerful blast of ghost pepper.
Ghost Pepper Buffalo Wings
No tailgate would be complete without a giant tray of buffalo wings, and ghost pepper buffalo wings are just a more intense way to get into the spirit. When making your buffalo wing sauce you can add a bit of ghost pepper extract along with your other spices before it begins to reduce. Then, simply baste your chicken wings with this off the scale sauce and watch your friends go wild!
Ghost Pepper Bloody Mary
Now onto the hard stuff- hard drinks! A ghost pepper Bloody Mary will kill a hangover quick by literally obliterating your cranium with its pure spicy indulgence. If you already have a pre-made bloody mary sauce mix you can simply add a dash of ghost pepper flakes to the mix and then shake it up with tomato juice and vodka. If you don’t, then here’s my recommendation for a killer homemade ghost pepper bloody mary mix. Blend Worchester sauce, cinnamon, lemon juice, horseradish, and then at the end, just a dash of ghost pepper flakes. Experiment with different ratios to find one that has optimal deliciousness.
You don’t have to be afraid to experiment with ghost pepper recipes, or adding ghost pepper to your favorite foods. The key is in moderation. If you add too much ghost pepper, it will completely overpower the dish and leave your mouth on fire. Just a drop or two will pretty much always do the trick. Happy tasting!