Spicy food is a hot trend these days.
Adventurous eaters are turning up the heat on chefs and products developers to create foods and beverages with bolder flavors and ranges of heat — from subtle to scorching.
According to food researchers, within the category of hot and spicy flavors and ingredients, there is growth among those that are from emerging ethnic cuisines and ones that were formerly not readily available ingredients, like Sriracha. Says Maeve Webster, Senior Director at Datassential in an interview with Food Technology magazine, “It is a great example of something that has experienced exponential and fairly consistent growth over the last few years. Before five years ago or so, nobody outside of ethnic neighborhoods had ever even heard of it.”
Now, restaurants feature the sauce as a marinade for meat and vegetables, large grocery store chains carry bottles of it, and even snack food giant Frito-Lay sold Lay’s Sriracha Flavored Potato Chips as a limited-time offering.
In the November 2013 issue of Food Technology, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Senior Associate Editor Karen Nachay writes about the following unique spicy ingredients being used to turn up the heat.
Turn up the heat
Szechuan peppercorn: A member of the citrus family typically used in some cuisines throughout Asia. The tingling sensation has a slow onset and lingers for a long time.
Harissa: A paste typically made from various dried red chili peppers, cumin, coriander, caraway seeds and garlic.
Gochujang: A pungent and savory condiment made from fermented soy beans, red chili peppers, glutinous rice, and salt. It is traditionally used to season Korean entrees like kimchi, and soup.
Alpeppo pepper: A spice from Syria and Turkey that is similar to a chili pepper but with a bit of sweetness and fruitiness. It has a heat level similar to Serrano pepper and is often dried and used as crushed flakes.
Za’atar: A blend of sumac, herbs like thyme and oregano, white sesame seeds, and salt. While this condiment is not exactly hot, it can have a nutty, floral herb, and slightly acidic flavor.
Sriracha: Hot sauce made from chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, salt and sugar.
Hatch chili peppers: A species of cultivated chili peppers that grow in and around Hatch, New Mexico. They have a mild-to-medium heat level that is less than jalapenos. Roasting them brings out brings out sweet and smoky flavors.
Shishito peppers: An extremely mild pepper from Japan that can be eaten whole.