Southeast Asian food is more than just a beautiful sight, it smells good and tastes even better. What’s the secret? It’s got to be the spices. In fact, the region is notorious for producing some of the hottest plates out there. And we all have the bird’s eye chili to thank for that.

Just so you know we are dealing with one of the hottest and spiciest things on Earth (there are hotter stuff out there, if you can imagine). You do not want to scratch your eyes after handling these little yet menacing fruits! Don’t be surprised to see the bird’s eye chili, otherwise known as Thai chili or comically referred to in Thai as prik kee noo (mouse dropping chili) eaten fresh off from the stem. If you are not accustomed to eating hot and spicy food, do not try this!

So, how hot are these little suckers? At one time it was even listed as the hottest chili in the Guinness Book of World Records but other varieties of chili have since been identified. There is actually a system that measures these hot peppers. It is the Scoville scale. So, where does bird’s eye chili rank? Let’s find out:

  • Pure capsaicin: 15,000,000–16,000,000 Scoville heat units
  • Law enforcement pepper spray: 5,000,000–5,300,000 Scoville heat units
  • Trinidad Scorpion T Butch Pepper: 855,000–1,463,700 Scoville heat units
  • Habanero pepper: 100,000–350,000 Scoville heat units
  • Bird’s eye chili: 50,000–100,000 Scoville heat units
  • Cayenne peper: 30,000–50,000 Scoville heat units
  • Tabasco pepper: 30,000–50,000 Scoville heat units
  • Tabasco sauce: 2,500–8,000 Scoville heat units
  • Jalapeno peppers: 2,500- 8,000 Scoville heat units
  • Paprika: 2,500- 8,000 Scoville heat units
  • Pimento: 100-500 Scoville heat units
  • Bell pepper: 0 Scoville heat units

So, now we get an idea. Just imagine how hot the peppers above Bird’s eye chili are. In fact, in order to cook Trinidad Scorpion T Butch Pepper (which is the world’s hottest pepper by the way), people have to wear chemical masks and a body suit!

Other than eating it fresh, what other uses are there for Bird’s eye chili? It can be grounded and used as a condiment in food, especially in soup dishes. The chilies can also be dried out in the sun. The larger dried whole chilies are used to make curry paste and the smaller ones are usually kept for later consumption. Finally, the chilies can be used to make chili paste. Salt, vinegar and garlic are added to complete the taste.

You’ve been warned about the chilies, now there is no turning back! You have to try the cuisine. And what better way to do so than with one of our culinary tours? Food from throughout the region may be varied in look, flavor and origin but there is one thing each country’s food share in similarity – its undeniably good taste as a result of bird’s eye chili.


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