Habanero chiles

Also called: Congo, bonnie, Guinea pepper, Scotch bonnet pepper (although they’re actually different cultivars)

Stemming from the Caribbean and Yucatan, this very spicy chile can be used in both its fresh and dried forms. With a few rare exceptions, habanero is the hottest chile there is, getting a 10+ on the Capsicum scale.

As with most chiles, it’s excellent in sauces, but do use in moderation–and always handle habaneros with gloves on. It may sound laughable, but even washing your hands several times may not eliminate the searing oil the peppers leave behind. Anyone who has had the misfortune of rubbing their eye with a habanero-tained finger can testify to the excruciating results.

Potatoes mashed with just a scant bit of finely chopped habanero make an excellent accompaniment to sautéed fish. Make a fresh hot sauce of chopped peppers, plenty of lime juice, and salt, and use as you would Tabasco.

The color varies from green to orange and habanero chiles have a lantern shape. Fresh chiles are offered in many produce aisles. Dried habaneros have all the heat but not quite all the flavor of fresh. Prepared habanero hot sauce in a shaker bottle is a convenient and safe (no fiery fingers) way to add habanero spice and zing to your dishes.



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