Scoville heat unit scale
Chili pepper heat is measured by the Scoville Heat Unit Scale, which measures how much dilution a concentration of chili peppers needs before it no longer burns the tongues of unfortunate test subjects. At the lower end of the scale, sweet bell peppers are not awarded any SHUs, while jalapenos fall into the range of 2,500 to 8,000 SHU, and Scotch bonnet packs a mightier 100,000 to 350,000 SHU.
Astoundingly, ghost peppers deliver a whopping 855,000 to 1,041,427 SHU and were the hottest of the hot until 2010, when overtaken by Naga Viper, which was subsequently trumped by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion in 2012.
New attempts at the title are constantly being made. The Guinness Book of World Records listed the appropriately named Carolina Reaper grown by Ed Currie of PuckerButt Pepper Co. in South Carolina as the hottest in existence in their publication last year, stating that it reaches an average of 1,569,300 SHU. It’s hard to understand why these sometimes tongue-blistering tastes would be popular, but many find these initially negative heat sensations to be pleasant and find they enhance other flavors.
100g of chili pepper, on average, contains 26 calories, 0.3g fat, and 1.8g protein. It contains 440mg of potassium and 225mg of vitamin C, which is necessary for wound healing, healthy skin, tendons, bones and supportive tissues. Since one chili weighs around 45g, this means it supplies more than the recommended daily amount of vitamin C in one pepper. Other antioxidants found in large quantities in peppers are carotenoids – especially beta-carotene, which is transformed to vitamin A by the body and needed for vision and immunity.
The capsaicin that provides the chili’s heat is also claimed to fight inflammation and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Some studies have shown potential effects on weight management by reducing energy intake and appetite. Further study in this area is needed. Bones, teeth, nerves and muscle functions benefit from the calcium content of the peppers, while the iron they contain is necessary for transporting oxygen in the blood and muscles.
How to eat
There is an unending list of recipes that use one of the many types of chili peppers due to the depth they add to many dishes, whether raw, dried, as a spice or powder. One surprisingly successful food pairing is chili and chocolate, with the contrast between spicy and sweet making for a delightful taste.
In honor of the many meat lovers who will be celebrating Father’s Day this week, Vidyadhara Shetty, executive chef/owner at Blue Cilantro and president of the Cayman Culinary Society, has supplied an indulgent yet simple recipe for pulled barbecue beef short ribs with jicama and mango slaw and Cayman style barbecue sauce, which uses the much-loved Scotch bonnet pepper.
Pulled barbecue beef short Ribs, jicama and mango slaw, and Cayman style barbecue sauce
Served on a 1 ½ oz. slider bun
8 to 10 portions
Beef short ribs
- Beef short ribs – 2 lbs (ask your butcher to cut the short ribs 2” x 6”)
- Mirepoix (roughly chopped – 1 carrot, 2 celery stems, 1 medium size onion)
- Garlic – 2 cloves
- Salt and pepper to taste
Season the ribs in a roasting pan add the garlic and the mirepoix. Braise the ribs at 325° Fahrenheit until the meat starts leaving the bones
Jicama and mango slaw
- Jicama – 1 large
- Cayman mango – 1 large
- Red onion – 1 medium
- Cilantro – ¼ bunch
- Scotch bonnet pepper – 1 small
- Lime – 1
- Extra virgin olive oil – 1 Tbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
Slice and grill the jicama, mango and red onion and put it aside. Once cooled, julienne the jicama, mango and red onion. Roughly chop the cilantro, de-seed the Scotch bonnet pepper and chop it finely. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and finish with lime juice and olive oil.
Cayman style barbecue sauce
- Guava paste – 1 lb
- Guava puree – 1 cup
- Tomato ketchup – 1 ½ cup
- Smoked barbecue – ¼ cup
- Fresh garlic – 4 cloves
- Tabasco – 3 oz
Blend all of the ingredients together and bring the sauce to the boil in a saucepan.
Split the slider bun into two, place the hot pulled beef on the bottom half of the bun and top with the slaw and hot Cayman barbecue sSauce. Top with the other half of the bun and enjoy.