Demon Chile Peppers
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Demon chile peppers are small and slender pods, averaging 2 to 7 centimeters in length, and have a defined, conical shape that tapers to a point on the non-stem end. The skin ripens from green to red when mature and is smooth, glossy, and taut, connecting to a stiff, green stem. Underneath the thin skin, the flesh is crisp, aqueous, and pale green or red, depending on maturity, encasing a central cavity filled with round and flat, cream-colored seeds. Demon chile peppers have a fruity, tangy flavor that is mixed with an immediate, sharp level of spice that builds in intensity and lingers on the palate.
Demon chile peppers are available year-round, with a peak season in the summer through early fall.
Demon chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are a hybrid variety of red Thai chile that belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Also known as Demon Red chile peppers, Demon chile peppers are a moderate to hot variety, ranging 30,000 to 50,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. Demon chiles grow in clusters in an upright formation on a prolific, dwarf plant that can produce as many as one hundred pods in one growing season. The pungent peppers can be used in their green, immature state and red, mature state, and are grown for both culinary and ornamental use.
Demon chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can help protect the immune system, and are a good source of vitamin K, manganese, and potassium. The peppers also contain capsaicin, which is the chemical compound that triggers the brain to feel heat or spice and has been known to provide anti-inflammatory properties.
Demon chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as stir-frying, roasting, and sautéing. They are most popularly used whole or chopped in Asian dishes such as Thai curries and stir-fries and are used to add heat to pasta dishes. Demon chile peppers can also be used raw in papaya and mango salads, pickled as a spicy condiment, cooked into a jam, or blended into sauces, salsas, and dips. It is important to note that Demon chile peppers are hot and just one or two pods in a dish will provide significant heat. Demon chile peppers can also be dried and ground into a powder or ground into flakes for use as a spicy seasoning. Demon chile peppers pair well with citruses such as yuzu and lemon juice, aromatics such as garlic, onion, and ginger, and curry leaves. The peppers will keep 1-2 weeks when stored whole and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Demon chile peppers were awarded the Royal Horticultural Society or RHS Award of Garden Merit in 2006 in Britain. The RHS assesses the plant’s use, availability, growth habits, resistance to disease, and flavor through the lens of home gardening. There are over 75,000 plants in the RHS’s database, and this award indicates that the plant is highly recommended and contains exceptional qualities. Demon chile peppers earned this award as they were intentionally bred to grow on a small plant that can be kept on windowsills or in small gardens. Gardeners favor the plant for its dark purple-tinged leaves, brightly colored, upright pods, and spicy heat.
Demon chile peppers are believed to be variants of the red Thai chile plant, which is a descendant of the ancient chile pepper varieties first discovered in Central and South America. Peppers were introduced to Asia via Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries and the spicy pepper varieties became widely popular, grown in home gardens and commercially cultivated. Over time, many of the favored varieties such as the red Thai chile were selectively bred for specific traits resulting in new peppers such as Demon chile peppers. Today Demon chile peppers can be found through online seed catalogs for home garden use and in specialty markets in the United Kingdom, Africa, the United States, Asia, and Southeast Asia.