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Hawaiian chile peppers are small, elongated pods, averaging 2 to 7 centimeters in length, and have a conical shape that tapers to a rounded point on the non-stem end. The pods grow upright on a large, bushy plant, and the skin is smooth, taut, and slightly firm, ripening from green to yellow-orange, and then to red when mature. Underneath the surface, the flesh is crisp and pale red, encasing a central cavity filled with round and flat, cream-colored seeds. Hawaiian chile peppers have a salty, savory, and subtly sweet flavor mixed with an immediate, intense level of spice that lingers on the palate.
Hawaiian chile peppers are available year-round.
Hawaiian chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum frutescens, are small but hot peppers that are members of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. In Hawaii, the potent peppers are also known as Nioi, which is a generic name for peppers, and are sometimes known as Bird peppers, which is derived from the belief that birds spread the seeds through their excrements. Hawaiian chile peppers have a high level of spice, ranging 100,000 to 250,000 SHU on the Scoville scale, and have been widely adopted into Hawaiian cuisine, most commonly used in a condiment known as chile pepper water.
Hawaiian chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamins C and A, which are antioxidants that can help boost the immune system, improve the skin, and rebuild collagen within the body. The peppers also contain a very high amount of the chemical compound known as capsaicin, which triggers pain receptors in our body to feel the sensation of burning. Capsaicin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and causes the body to release endorphins to counteract the perceived pain.
Hawaiian chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as roasting, simmering, and stir-frying. When fresh, the peppers can be chopped into salsa, blended into hot sauces, or minced into dishes such as kimchi. Hawaiian chile peppers can also be cooked into spaghetti sauces, bean dishes, soups, stews, and chilis, or used as a topping over tacos. The peppers are considered to be very hot and are often used as a flavoring, removed after the cooking process. In Hawaii, Hawaiian chile peppers can be used as a pepper substitute in any spicy dish and are utilized in lau lau, which is meat wrapped in taro and ti leaves, poke, and pipikaula, which is a dried and salted beef similar to beef jerky. Green Hawaiian chile peppers can also be pickled for extended use. Hawaiian chile peppers pair well with meats such as turkey, poultry, beef, pork, and fish, eggs, seaweed, taro, sweet potatoes, rice, coconut milk, and soy sauce.
In Hawaii, the most popular use for Hawaiian chile peppers is in chile pepper water, also known as fire water. Considered to be a traditional Hawaiian sauce used as a condiment, chile pepper water is made by combining a handful of Hawaiian chile peppers, salt, vinegar, and water. The concoction is put in a jar, shaken a bit, and left to sit in a cool, dark place for about a month before it’s used. There are many variations of chile pepper water with added ingredients such as garlic, ginger, or soy sauce, and the condiment is a regular table flavoring offered at high-end restaurants to local food trucks. Chile pepper water is popularly used on eggs, rice dishes, cooked meats, soups, and seafood. Another common use for Hawaiian chile peppers is in volcanic jam or jelly, which is a spicy spread used on toast, sandwiches, omelets, and paired with cheeses such as brie or cream cheese.
Hawaiian chile peppers are descendants of peppers native to Central and South America and have been cultivated since ancient times. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, many Spanish and Portuguese explorers and horticulturalists arrived in Hawaii and represented one theory as to how the peppers were introduced to the islands. The other theory is from birds consuming the pods and scattering seeds across the islands through excrements. Today the small, spicy Hawaiian chile peppers can be found at local markets and farmer’s markets throughout Hawaii. They are also commonly grown in home gardens for everyday cooking.
Recipes that include Hawaiian Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Tasty Kitchen||Hawaiian Chili -Peppa Water|