November 13, 2010

Saga Jolokia: Chapter 1- Apple Jolokia Chemical Bomb

If you like spicy, I mean really really like really spicy... then you'll love the Naga (or bhut) jolokia- sometimes called the ghost pepper.  It is unrivaled in Scoville units (nearly 1 million, which is 2-3 times a habanero's level) AND has great flavor. In both sauces and fresh (on pizza, sandwiches, etc.) it gives a slowly warming heat, with a bright flavor.  I could probably describe the flavor better if I had a chance to focus on it- usually I'm marveling at how my face sweats when I so much as look in its direction.  In fact, I think I'm starting to sweat just thinking about the pepper....

starts innocently enough...

E bravely de-seeds with no gloves
This pepper seems to have taken the Western world by storm in the past 5 years, satisfying the chilihead's desire for spicier challenges.  My mom has the highest heat tolerance of anyone I've ever even heard of- she really doesn't feel spicy heat like the rest of us.  So of course, one night my dad and I were web-searching the hottest peppers in the world to see if we could a find good challenge for her, and stumbled on this guy. I found seeds for my pepper-loving mother to plant thinking that a pepper currently under testing for weaponization would be the one she couldn't handle.  The seeds never germinated (they are notoriously difficult to grow) but she found a plant and it produced heaps of peppers.  Peppers which my mother relished, without the slightest hint of discomfort.  Luckily, E and I got some of the bounty- not only did we get a bunch of fresh peppers, but we got a crushed dried pepper mix with a mixture of peppers.  Since we already had a bunch of dried peppers, we decided we needed a hot sauce.  (If you don't have them, use more habaneros and jalapenos in place of the jolokia. We can't let you into the Jolokia Warrior Club, but your hot sauce will still be tasty.)

Making this hot sauce really drove home the whole concept of a jolokia bomb. As E was chopping, my face started to sweat from the release of the peppers' juices. Should have been a warning to us both, but we tossed the peppers into the hot pan with no though to our safety.  In a matter of seconds, we were coughing, with our eyes watering and our bodies generally beginning to feel assaulted. There was no sweet adrenaline rush like you get from eating capsaicin, just the misery of self-inflicted chemical warfare.  

We had to finish the sauce with our t-shirts pulled over our faces, taking frequent trips to the backyard to gasp fresh air.  Ridiculous? Yes.  Worth it? Absolutely. This sauce has a surprisingly mellow heat that warms up slowly. I was so afraid it was going to be too hot to enjoy, but it's perfect! The apple is crucial, and gives it a nice sweet rounding-out.  We've been putting it on eggs, beans, veggies, bites of cheese, our fingers... it's just GOOD.  Don't be scared.  Do the jolokia.  

Apple Jolokia Hot Sauce
3 jolokia - 2 seeded and 1 with seeds
3 jalapenos - with seeds
2 seeded habanero peppers
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 apple, chopped
1.5 cups vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp salt
2.5 tbsp sugar
two grinds pepper
2 tsp oil

1. Prepare yourself and your kitchen:  Open windows and turn on the fan.  Put on biohazard suit, or cover mouth and nose with a bandana.
2. Prepare the peppers: (wear gloves if you want to, otherwise wash immediately after handling) Cut top off pepper, then cut in half and remove seeds. Chop roughly.
3. Chop the onion, garlic, and apple.
4. Measure the other ingredients and set out. 
5. Heat oil med-high. Add peppers, onion, garlic and allow them to soften (about 2 minutes).  
6. Add sugar and salt, followed by the vinegar, water, and apple. 
7. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
8. LEAVE THE ROOM! Evacuate all animals, and return only to check on the progress of the sauce. 
9. Simmer for 15 minutes- you want the peppers fairly cooked (or rather, the liquid infused).  
10. Put on your bravery pants and transfer the mixture to a food processor. While you give it a few moments to cool off, pat yourself on the back for surviving the worst of it.
11. Blend/pulverize.  
12. Strain, using a fine mesh strainer and bottle the sauce.

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