Thursday, May 11, 2006

Japan's Hottest Hot Pepper

While wandering through Kyoto's Gion District, we bought this small envelope containing "Japan's Hottest Golden Hot Pepper" at Gion Ajikou. Although we'd never heard of the shop or this pepper, the label on the package saying "Japan's hottest pepper," was irresistable. Always seeking a challenge and, to improve our "spiciness tolerance," we bought it. And besides, Japanese cuisine is not known to be spicy we thought, so how spicy could it really be?

This particular powdered pepper is made from a Japanese yellow or "Ogon (golden)" pepper and it is claimed to be 10 times hotter than regular Japanese "Togarashi (red)"pepper. The Ogon pepper is thought to have originated as a yellow hot pepper in Southeast Asia, and its cultivation in Japan was first recorded in the mid-18th century.

Yesterday, we finally opened the envelope for the first time since our return to NY and inside found the innocuous-looking yellow powder. When the mere scent of that "powder" hit our noses, we began to sneeze violently. We dipped a moistened finger, ever so slightly into the powder and gingerly touched it to our tongue....

...which immediately began to blister! The capsacin level was off the chart! If you, like us thought that Habanero was the benchmark for ultra-hot, Ogon sets a new standard. How to use our "lifetime supply" of this hyper hot ingredient? Some about substituting it for the cayenne in deviled eggs? Use it in lieu of the aforementioned Togarashi in kinpira (gobo or burdock sauteed in grapeseed oil, sugar, mirin, and sake), or maybe in spicy fried rice, or in rubs and pastes for grilling.

Ordering this may be a challenge if you haven't brushed up on your Japanese lately...the website is entirely in Japanese. If you're interested in getting your hands on some, let us know!


Anonymous said...

This sounds interesting; I'd like to get my hands on some.

A good way to use up something that strong is to heat butter or oil gently in a double boiler and steeping the pepper like tea for 30 - 45 minutes. Then you can just substitute that oil/butter in any recipe.

Hiroko and Rick said...

hot pepper infused oil is an interesting idea! we still have the hottest hot pepper, and wondering about the way to use up the pepper.


aflacman13 said...

So what is the actual name of these super hot peppers? I their a way you might could send me some?

Hiroko and Rick said...

aflacman13 san,

It is called Ogon Togarashi 黄金唐辛子, but I am not sure of botanic name. I wish I could buy it more myself, but I haven't come across or I haven't looked for it when i went to Japan. Maybe you can google Ogon togarashi, and you can order from them.