Don’t Let Her Sweet Looks Fool You: She’s Too Hot to Handle

Don’t Let Her Sweet Looks Fool You: She’s Too Hot to Handle

Such a sweet young thing: cute, little, and plump.

But beware.  This one’s too hot the handle.  In fact, the scotch bonnet chili pepper is the Jessica Rabbit of the chili world. And like many a vixen who’ve taken down strong men, this one can, too.

This walnut-sized, irregularly shaped hottie ranges in color from yellow to orange to red and in taste from hot to hotter to get-out-the-firehose.

Sweet young thang

When I say hot I mean hot. You thought the jalapeno was hot?  The serrano?  Kid stuff.  Even Thailand’s bird pepper falls short of the Caribbean scotch bonnet chili.  A single scotch bonnet chili has the fire power of fifty jalapenos.

Even so, it’s addictive. Shaped something like a Highlander’s turban (hence the name), the scotch bonnet grows throughout the Caribbean and is an essential ingredient in Jamaican jerk, French West Indian accras (salt cod fritters), in Trinidadian hot sauces, and in our famous Bajan hot sauce that we douse over our eggs, meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, and anything else we can think of.

For the true death-defying aficionado, try The Brutal Bajan.  But even a hot-sauce wuss like me enjoys the Delish brand of Bajan hot pepper sauce with cucumbers. Who’d’ve thought that an ingredient list that reads “hot peppers, cucumber, onions, mustard, vinegar, and salt” would be so tasty, kind of mustard-citrusy, and so perfect on my grilled salmon, in a tuna sandwiches, and splashed over ham and eggs?

I picked up a bottle of the Delish brand at the Gap Convenience store for my daughter Rachel’s first visit to Barbados and since her first encounter with the good stuff, she’s simply had to have it on her food at home … in New York.  Okay, so shoot me; I gave my kid the crack of hot sauces.

In bed with my Delish Bajan Hot Pepper Sauce with Cucumber

In bed with my Delish Bajan Hot Pepper Sauce with Cucumber

She’s not the only one.  My friends Sue and Chris own the Best of Barbados shops; yesterday, Sue forwarded the following e-mail she’d just received:

Greetings everyone at ‘BEST OF BARBADOS’

It was with a HUGE sigh of relief when I answered the door to our postman this morning as he delivered the 2-litre bottle of Delish Bajan Hot Pepper Sauce we ordered…I must admit we were getting more than a little concerned as the small 355ml bottles we brought back from Barbados last year when we (UB40) played our first gig on the island were running out. How else could we make airline food taste good? And as traveling musicians we have to eat it so often…So on behalf of not only UB40 but also our very grateful road crew…THANKS A MILLION…yours sincerely Brian Travers

Do you know how enormous a two-liter bottle is??  It’s the size of those giant Coke bottles you buy when you have a party.  Sue told me it’s the number-one seller on their shop’s website.

“Hot” Has Never Been So Cool

Who’d’ve thought that a hot little chili would help Caribbean cuisine stake a claim on global menus? Yet it has, um, warmed its way into the hearts of chefs the world over.

The craze for our peppers may have begun in the early 1970s with Jamaica jerk pork, but chili peppers have been around and used since B.C. and domesticated throughout South and North America (particularly New Mexico, also famous for its chili peppers).

So Where to Get It?

What I don’t understand is why the “largest supplier of hot sauce in the world” only carries two Bajan brands – and neither is Delish, despite queries on forums wanting the stuff.  Ditto a site calling itself “Barbados marketplace” … good stuff on offer, but where’s the Delish, “Delish in any dish”??  You among the hard core? Get the Brutal Bajan here.

Whipping Up a Batch

It’s great to have as a claim to fame that you were once prime minister of a country, as Errol Barrows was.  But just as distinctive is Mr Barrows‘ legacy in chili-making with this recipe bearing his name.  Like it hotter?  Try this one.

Me, I prefer to leave the making of it to the experts. A perk of living in Barbados is having Delish and other brands available at every supermarket, corner market, gas station convenience store, restaurant and fast food joint.

If you’re a visitor, you can pick some up at Grantley Adams International Airport before leaving the island at the Best of Barbados store located inside security so you don’t have to worry about the 3.3-ounce rule.

The scotch bonnet … killer-hot but still – you can’t help yourself – you go back for more.

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