Cooking with Habaneros

Aside from jelly, how do you use Habanero chiles?

We use ours to flavor chili.

We’ve also made salsa with them.

Chopped and cooked with onions (or mild peppers or cabbage or carrots or apples or anything else), it’s the base for chili or hot curries or salsa or a sauce or chutney (either with coriander leaves or plums) or anything else you like fruity and hot. Chopped and mixed with minced vegetables, shrimp, and/or pork, it belongs in a dumpling. Raw and whole, with tequila, they can be the basis of a short and unhappy drinking game.

Jerk paste, roasted habanero & lime salsa/hot sauce, pickled red onions, xni-pec (basically, a Yucatecan pico de gallo type of salsa), Carribean curries, various African condiments and main dishes (“chicken light soup” is one I’ve been enjoying lately), some of the stupid hot curries like tindaloo (not vindaloo) or phall (which seem to be British Indian riffs on curries to appeal to the macho I NEED IT HOT crowd), chicken wings, homemade habanero sausage, etc.

I actually don’t think I’ve ever used it for jelly, though.

Oh, and of course, just using it raw as a tableside condiment for stir fries or whatnot (though I typically prefer Thai chiles for that), and dried and crushed into powder. Every year, I end up with more habaneros and superhots (this year I have Carolina Reaper, Trinidad Scorpion, and Chocolate Trinidad Scorpions, in addition to habanero and Scotch bonnet) than I know what to do with, so, besides the above, I dehydrate them and keep some whole, while powdering a bunch into one of the most pungent, sinus clearing powders you’ve ever tasted. I then use those sprinkled on foods I want an added kick to, or in chili powders.

Huh. I thought jerk sauce was made with Scotch bonnets (which I’ve never even seen, and wouldn’t know where to get).

They are essentially the same thing. Flavor and heat level is very similar. They can be freely substituted for each other. They are both from the capsicum chinense species of peppers, which have a very particular fruity tropical flavor to them. Other peppers in this species include the Trinidad scorpions, the Carolina reaper, the ghost pepper (bhut/naga jolokia), and fatalii peppers. I’ve grown all of these, and they all have that tell-tale *chinense[/] flavor to them. There’s a little variation, of course, but habs work perfectly fine for jerk paste, and I would not be able to tell a batch made with habaneros from a batch made from Scotch bonnets. ETA: And there is a lot of bickering on the internet as to what the difference is. The main thing is that Scotch bonnets are supposed to have a slightly “smokier” flavor. I personally have not noticed it in the bonnets I’ve had, but it does seem to be a common observation. At any rate, in jerk paste (and in the ones I’ve grown), I cannot tell the difference. I might say that on its own, the Scotch bonnet is perhaps less “sharp” and slightly fruitier than the hab, but that’s all I’ve got.

At any rate, regardless what the differences may be, any recipe made with Scotch bonnets can be made with habaneros and vice versa (and with fataliis or whatever capsicum chinense pepper you prefer) without turning it into a completely different dish. I also freely substitute various capsicum annums for each other, like if I’m doing a Thai dish and don’t have Thai chiles around, my fresh cayennes or something labeled “super chili” work just as fine without significantly altering the character of the dish.

The only recipe I use them in is Jamaican Hot Pepper Shrimp, which isn’t actually all that hot.

I think I must have gotten this recipe from you a few years back. I just remember that there was a poached recipe here on the Straight Dope from a few years backs that was shrimp boiled in habanero and allspice. It’s great for a nice, light lunch or dinner! There was a period of time where I made it a couple times a week.

In everything but ice cream.

Heh–maybe so! I haven’t made it in years, since my kids grew old enough to love shrimp but not old enough to love spice. I look forward to its return to my beach diet once they’re older :).

Yep, it was in this thread, and it was you. I remember it being around 2007 or so when I read this recipe (close–it was 2008). That’s before I had kids and was really into keeping fit and this was a perfect satisfying, low calorie, high protein lunch.

Habanero and pineapple go together very nicely for hot sauce.

How hot it is?

My mom ended up with some a couple of years ago, from mislabeled plants. They’re way above her tolerance, so she gave them to me. They’re above my tolerance, too, so I dried them out in my oven (lowest temperature setting for a few hours), powdered them, and put them in a jar. About one shake worth adds a good amount of heat to a dish, to my taste. Though they’ve probably lost some heat, and certainly lost flavor, since then.

Not very much, actually. I mean, it’s got a kick, but it’s 4 habaneros cooked in two cups of water, and there’s only so much water that gets in the shrimp and sticks to it, so it’s got habanero flavor, but it’s not like taking shrimp and dipping it into El Yucateco or anything like that. To me, it was like shrimp with a kiss of jerk flavor (as opposed to shrimp cooked with my jerk paste, which is about 12-16 habaneros in one to two cups of paste, and that stuff sticks to the shrimp or chicken or pork or whatnot when it cooks. Now that stuff is blazin’.)

Actually, the two recipes are slightly different. I use the one in the older thread, which is four habs with two cups water. The other (in this thread) is three habs in four cups water. I also made one slight adjustment in adding a bit of an MSG and salt bomb by adding a bullion cube to the cooking water.