Are you a fan of heat? Do you love that burning sensation in your mouth and nose when you take a bite of something with a scotch bonnet, habanero, or even a ghost chile, the world’s hottest chile pepper? Scientists aren’t quite sure what makes certain people seek out spicy food, which tricks the pain receptors on the tongue and makes the brain think the mouth is getting physically hotter. Studies suggest that it’s simply for the thrill of it and similar to the desire some people have for skydiving or taking other risks. Whatever the specific reason, those people should be sure to check out these spiciest meals in the world:
Sik Sik Wat
Prepared in Ethiopia, a sik sik wat is a beef stew. That sounds simple enough. Stew cubed beef in a wine-tomato sauce with fenugreek, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. That would be delicious on its own, but to kick up the heat, chefs add “berbere,” an extremely spicy Ethiopian spice mix that includes dried red chiles and paprika. Just about every savory meal includes this spice mix, so if you’re in Ethiopia, prepare for the heat.
If you’re in Korea, you’ll find kimchi everywhere, including kimchi stew, known locally as “kimchi jjigae.” To make the stew, simmer beef and the spicy pickled cabbage condiment with onion, tofu, garlic, Korean chili flakes, and kochujang, a hot pepper paste. People enjoy the burning stew all year round, though it’s most popular in winter, and you can find it at most eateries in Korea.
Sichuan hot pot
If the word “hot” is in the dish, you can guess it’s going to be one of the spiciest meals in the world. A staple of Chinese cooking, Sichuan hot pot is very versatile, so you’ll see lots of different ingredients used. The base, however, is always an extremely spicy soup made with Sichuan peppercorns and other chiles. Diners eat it fondue-style with different meats and vegetables on plates around the steaming metal bowl, and everyone dips in their ingredients.
Papa a la Huancaina
Made in Peru, this spicy dish is usually eaten as an appetizer. Chefs boil yellow potatoes and drench them in a yellow cheese sauce made with aji amarillo peppers, which give the sauce a gorgeous golden color, and habaneros. The seeds are kept in, which contributes a lot to the spiciness. Hard-boiled eggs and black olives are served on the side. That cheese sauce, known simply as Huancaina, is used for a bunch of other dishes, as well, including spaghetti and steak.
Often called the hottest curry in the world, restaurants that serve it often give customers a certificate if they finish a bowl. The meal has ten different chile peppers, including ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia), the hottest pepper in the world. In New York City at the Brick Lane Curry House, chefs wear a gas mask when they prepare it. Do not attempt to eat Phaal curry unless you are an experienced spice master.
A famous dish in India, vindaloo pork actually came by way of the Portuguese. Ingredients include pork, red wine, garlic, and curry powder. It also contains lots of ghost peppers or Kashmiri chile, which is the traditional preparation. The result is one of the spiciest meals in the world.
Chiles and chile paste are common ingredients in very spicy food. Here’s a brief guide to understanding the many varieties and tastes of chile paste.