In Honor of Tongue-Burning Chili Peppers

By Mark Wiens 48 Comments

Chili Peppers

There are few things, aside from cloves of raw garlic and durian, that I enjoy more than enriching my food with flaming hot chili peppers.

They are precious little beauties of pure tongue entertaining delight.

Some claim that “over-doing it on the chillies” overpowers the dish – and while this can be true – the satisfying pain of a chili pepper scorching the mouth is an overpowering sensation I (and many others around the world) long for.

So here is a little photo tribute to honor such a wonderful addition to the world: the chili pepper.

Chili Peppers
Chili Peppers

Originating in the Americas, chili peppers spread throughout the globe; Now they are a major ingredient in cuisines from Asia to Africa to South America.

Eating chili peppers in Sri Lanka
Eating chili peppers in Sri Lanka

When I visited Sri Lanka I was excited to find some dangerously spicy chili peppers.

The cobra chili (bottom right), as it’s known, is not quite as lethal as a cobra itself, but it comes pretty close!

Thai nam prik chili sauces
Thai nam prik chili sauces

In Thailand, though chillies are not native, they are widely used in many Thai dishes. One of the popular ways to enjoy fiery heat is by eating nam prik chili sauce along with raw or boiled vegetables.

Prik nam pla (chillies in fish sauce)
Prik nam pla (chillies in fish sauce)

At just about every Thai street food stall, you’ll find prik nam pla, diced chillies drowned in fish sauce.

Chili Peppers
Sri Lankan hoppers and lunu miris

Sauces and garnishes are among the most useful methods of serving chili peppers.

Sri Lankan hoppers are incomplete without a few spoons of lunu miris (kind of chili paste) and coconut sambol would flavorless without chili powder.

Korean kimchi
Korean kimchi

In South Korea chillies are especially used for their magical flavoring properties. Kimchi, Korea’s omnipresent condiment, is heavily composed of dry chili flakes.

Dishes just wouldn't be the same without the addition of chili peppers
Dishes just wouldn’t be the same without the addition of chili peppers

Around the world, there are so many unique and outrageously delicious dishes that wouldn’t be the same without the chili pepper.

A few more dishes that are wholly enhanced by chili peppers
A few more dishes that are wholly enhanced by chili peppers

Thank your for joining me on this pictorial journey to honor the mighty chili pepper – a fruit that not only provides remarkable flavor, but also an intensely delicious burn!

Do you enjoy eating chili peppers? In what food?



48 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Peter

    3 years ago

    Hi mark

    Love your blog and vlogs, And must buy the shirt 🙂
    Because Falangs usually don’t get pet maak
    As I am also married to my loved thai wife I started to get used to spicy food
    And as you write I can fully agree, I love chillies

    You should make a vlog dedicated to chilies and hot food
    Maybe you have done so, I have to admit I first have to dig through the massive amount of SOOOO interesting content
    So cool you are sharing your life and love for food, travel with others

    Krub una krub
    Peter

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Peter, great to hear from you, and so glad you love spicy food as well. Are you living in Thailand?

      • Peter

        3 years ago

        We stay most of the time in Austria.
        But wife’s house is in Kanchanaburi, Muang.

        One time somtam pet maak challenge? 555 😀

        Thanks for coming back!

  • Mabaydar

    6 years ago

    Your post put a smile on me and mouth watering photos of all the chilies…
    The way you described and appreciate chilies is what I wanted to say but didn’t know how to put it into words…. Love this post and chili peppers….

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      That’s so cool to hear Mabaydar, glad you too are passionate about eating chillies!

  • ciaRaysabeL (@cosmicais)

    6 years ago

    For the love of chili peppers..great post! This made me hungry actually..chili in food makes it a whole lot yummier! 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thank you so much, glad you enjoyed it and also that you love chili too – does make everything better!

  • Arti

    6 years ago

    I love chillies and they are such an integral part of our Indian cuisine. Loved the post, the captures are amazing. Have a wonderful week ahead Mark 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks so much Arti! I have yet to explore Indian chillies (in India) but I can’t wait to do so!

  • Christine

    6 years ago

    Excellent shot of the red chili peppers. They do indeed add a lot of flavor to different dishes.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks a lot Christine, glad you enjoyed this!

  • Matthew Karsten

    6 years ago

    I just drooled all over my keyboard. Great shots. 😀

  • Erica

    6 years ago

    haha love this ode to chili peppers!
    You seem to have stayed mainly in Asia… maybe a global chili pepper tour is in order?! 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thank Erica, yup, just about everything here is Asian just due to the places I’ve been traveling / living the last three years. Would be awesome to travel around the world (specifically the Americas and Africa) just searching for chili filled dishes!

  • Chrystal McKay

    6 years ago

    What a lovely ode to Chili peppers! I love the colours in the photos and it makes me wish that my food was as spicy as it was in Thailand! Oh how I miss those chili peppers!!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thank you Chrystal. Chillies not only add flavor and excitement to food, but they really are beautiful to look at too! Did you live / travel in Thailand previously?

  • Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    6 years ago

    Our spice tolerance has increased greatly over the last few years.

  • wftristan

    6 years ago

    Hi Mark – Nice post – I love cooking with chill – so much so i did a cookery course in it at our local cookery school – we have an amazing chill farm here in Devon so are able to get some really tasty and a few red hot bad boys.

    Tristan

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Cool, thanks for sharing Tristan. Was the cooking course specifically just about cooking dishes with chillies? That’s great!

  • Masha (2away)

    6 years ago

    This post is sooooo mouthwatering!!! I am totally with you – life would be boring without chillies 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Masha and glad to hear you’re also a fan

  • Turkey’s For Life

    6 years ago

    You can never have too many chilli peppers in a dish. This is the perfect post for me! Thanks. 🙂 There are loads of spicy dishes in Turkey. The problem is, locals assume foreigners can’t handle chillies and we have to have a ‘discussion’ at every street food stand we go to, explaining to the nice man that his chillies are not going to blow our heads off. It’s a battle of wills where we are determined to come out on top. 🙂
    Julia

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks Julia. I get the same thing eating in Thailand, where many of the vendors also don’t think a foreigner can handle chillies. I’ve noticed that when I order something “very spicy” from a female it often comes not spicy at all (maybe the kindness of a female), but if I order “very spicy” from a male, it’s on fire – no mercy! Another thing I do here in Thailand to combat the non-spicy (but I want spicy) dishes is I actually tell them exactly how many chillies to add to my dish. I’m hoping to visit Turkey to indulge in some of the spicier dishes!

  • kyh

    6 years ago

    chillies are my food saviour! no meals are complete without them! :)))

  • Katherine – Kapcha The World

    6 years ago

    Looks so delicious – I can’t handle chilli at all unfortunately.

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      That’s ok too, and sometimes the chillies that aren’t spicy are packed with flavor too!

  • sully86

    6 years ago

    mark: Oh mien!! to die for!! to die for!!

  • Catherine

    6 years ago

    Good article. I eat chilis with most meals. Depending, I’m not adverse to bland food but chilis make the dining experience more interesting.

    “Do you enjoy eating chili peppers? In what food?”

    I’m in Thailand so I’m experiencing a decent range of spicy food. I have a high tolerance for spice so I’m in the right place. In saying that… it’s sometime a problem convincing a waitress/waiter that I want Thai spicy, but the condiment tray helps in a pinch.

    Breakfast is usually bacon and eggs (of some sort) with fresh cut chilis on top. A fav snack is salted slices of sharp cheddar cheese with jalapeño peppers. And of course, most anything Thai…

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Catherine! Yah, it is sometimes hard to convince vendors that you really want spicy and that you can handle it. When I’m ordering something like “som tam” I will often tell the cook the exact amount of chillies (prik 10 met) I want so I don’t have to worry about getting an un-spicy dish that I wanted spicy. Mmmm, your breakfast sounds good, as do slices of cheese with jalapeno peppers!

  • Fred

    6 years ago

    Gorgeous pics and interesting trivia make for a killer post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jeff

    6 years ago

    I find is fascinating to think about how deeply non-native ingredients have penetrated into various cuisines around the world to the point where you don’t even think of them as imported. Red pepper kimchi wasn’t common until around 1800 because it needed to find it way from Central America first. Just think of how often you find potatoes and corn in non-American cuisines!

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the comment Jeff. I fully agree, and probably many other things we eat and find in certain cuisine, we have no idea that they actually didn’t originate where we’re eating them. Same with Thailand, chillies aren’t native, yet they are now an essential ingredient in nearly every single dish. So many ingredients have traveled and permeated so far – just amazing!