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From: (Stephen Miller)
Newsgroups: sci.chem
Subject: Re: Advice wanted: cooking with hot peppers
Date: 5 Sep 97 20:41:59 GMT

"Bob Greer" <> writes:
>Eric Lucas <ealucas@*antispam*> wrote in article
>> Bob Greer wrote:
>> > I bought some Mexican canned hot-peppers and I wish to cook with them,
>> > typically by adding them to boiling soup.
>> >
>> > When I added them, though, a fine choking mist quickly made the kitchen
>> > useless for a few minutes.  Dry coughing was instantaneous.
>> Ironically, I believe the oil may have made things worse.  Remembering
>> back to 1st-quarter p-chem, I seem to recall that steam distillation
>> occurs when the material being distilled is in a different phase than
>> the water.
>Ah, thank you!   I tried it again last night with peppers cut more
>coarsely, and with oil.  The peppers sank instead of floating on oil, and
>the gassing was present but less extreme by (say, just for fun) a degree of
>I'm wondering now, after your reply, if the oil is absorbing some of the
>irritant compound from the water (a water:oil partition-coefficient
>problem, I suppose) and if I should delay the oil addition.  This would not
>be ideal: boiling water might destroy the irritant but it definitely
>reduces the heat.
>No, it sounds best to eliminate either the boiling (and accept the
>undesirable texture of the vegetables), or the oil.  My idea (to cook with
>chilies without losing their flavor in boiling water) has failed.
>Out goes the oil! Viva la Chile (the *ultimate* flame)!

Since you're adding oil to your soup, why not saute the hot peppers in oil
in a separate skillet (say, with some garlic, onion, and mushrooms), and
add this to your soup once you're ready to eat it? I routinely make pasta
in a similar manner, usually with serrano peppers or the mighty habanero
with no ill effects to my lungs.

 I do remember toying around with the celebrated Cajun chef
Paul Prudomme's blackened snapper recipe once, applying it to chicken.
Briefly, you heat an iron skillet red hot over a toasty hot gas flame,
add the fish/meat coated with white, black and red pepper, thyme, and
one other ingredient that escapes me, and sear it on each side for about
one minute. Needless to say, this makes an incredibly irritating smoke
containg bucketloads of capsaicin, inducing dry coughing, stinging eyes,
etc... unfortunately my stovetop fan was not nearly strong enough to
remove the smoke. Problem is, you need a very hot flame, and a barbeque
simply isn't hot enough (unless it's a gas grill). What I needed was
a HOOD. When I finally build that dream house...


ps The chicken tasted GREAT.

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