Pepper Insanity?
August 20, 2009 6:11 PM   Subscribe

Food Question! Have you ever tried a Naga Jolokia/Ghost Pepper? And survived?

Thanks to a "host eats insanely hot food" show on television, the husband has decided to purchase some Ghost Peppers and eat them. Having read the MeFi thread on them (and this one too) my questions are:

1) Are these peppers really that hot?
I'm wanting to know from people who actually tried them if they are indeed that insanely hot. And whether you (or one who ate them) underestimated the heat. Trying to figure out how much is hype and how much is actual heat - though the Scoville scale does rank these up in the scary (to me) numbers.

2) How long did the heat take to die down?
I'm kind of wondering what to do for husband after he eats the things - unless it's just one of those "only time will cause the pain to go away" things. Maybe I'll end up packing him in ice or something.

And no, I'm not going to try the things myself. I'm just going to document the horror. Also trying to figure out how quickly he can use up the peppers - he keeps murmuring something about a Shrimp Diablo recipe..
posted by batgrlHG to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My sister-in-law brought me a bar of dark chocolate infused with Naga Jolokia from some shop in San Francisco. No actual pepper bits in the chocolate, but I had a good 15 minute full mouth burn going. It was delicious.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:14 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We've had pepper battles and tried these. Yes, they're incredibly hot. Yes, eating one whole is probably insane. It will take at least a half hour, plus ice, plus probably cream cheese for the lips and milk for everything else. Wear gloves.

Try a habanero, see if you survive, multiply it by ten (in duration and in heat), and then punch yourself in the face. If you liked that, then eat a naga jolokia.
posted by kcm at 6:53 PM on August 20, 2009 [8 favorites]

Capsaicin is alcohol soluble. Keep a bottle of whiskey nearby.
posted by Loto at 7:12 PM on August 20, 2009

Some crazy people have done it.

Thank god for the 'tubes.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:29 PM on August 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Make sure you take special precautions about getting the oils on your hands, because hands then touch . . . other places . . . which can lead to other sorts of burning issues. Gloves are probably a good idea.
posted by that girl at 7:32 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have cooked with them, and they are actually pretty pleasant when used in moderation. I cannot recommend ever eating them without them being in something though. I think it would be a waste of perfectly good taste buds for the next week or so. Just a portion of one pepper, pulverized and steeped in oil and spices, then used as a rub on chicken alone will give you some good flaming lips for a day or so, as well as provide a little bit of intestinal discomfort for the next few bowel movements.

He only needs to bring home one. Honestly it should last you several meals if used in a proportion that allows people to have conversation while eating (and not just screaming in pain). And yes, use gloves, and honestly double bag on the pepper in the refrigerator, label it clearly, and keep away from small children. I'm not joking, this pepper is a weapon. A whole pepper in a crock pot of chili could easily result in the whole thing being pleasant for only those who really really really like spicy food, intestinal discomfort and trips to the restroom.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:39 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nope, didn't survive.

But seriously, Does hubs like other (less) hot peppers, or is this really just due to a TV show? I'd suggest working his way up to the naga jolokia, if he's not already comfortable with habaneros and such. Alternately, I guess you could pepper spray him real good, and then once he recovers, this won't seem nearly as bad.
posted by axiom at 8:46 PM on August 20, 2009

Hubby here. I'm comfortable cooking or garnishing with peppers up to and including habaneros. I don't see too much problem here, but I will likely push the envelope.

I'm thinking baked marmalade hot wings, chocolate diablo shrimp (sort of a mole), hellfire tamarind ceviche, and jerk marinaded fried chicken.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:36 PM on August 20, 2009

In my experience a little nibble of scotch bonnet takes about half an hour to die down to background levels.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:27 PM on August 20, 2009

Best answer: Be really careful about what you touch and what that pepper touches (cutting board, knives, fingers, arms, whiskey bottle, etc.). Especially if you have pets.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:53 PM on August 20, 2009

We have enough of these things growing to kill a small town. If I ever try one I'll let you know!
posted by hardcode at 1:59 AM on August 21, 2009

Best answer: My husband (who doesn't post here for logistical reasons, even though I really, really want him to), has tried a bhut jolokia twice. The first time it was a tiny sliver from a fresh pepper. And the second time it was a bit of the smoked and dried variety personally offered to him by Blair Lazar, founder of the semi-famous Blair's Death Sauces.

D has a pretty decent heat tolerance, but the bhut jolokia experiences were memorable, to say the least. He says that the biggest thing when the heat really hits (and it takes a few seconds, which lulls you into a false sense of, "well this ain't so bad," which is then soon followed by the HOLYFUCKINGSHITFIRE! stage) is to not panic. Your body's instinct will be to panic, and panic hard, because yes, they really are that hot.

The fresh one was given to him by a friend at work who special-ordered them off the web. Said friend eats jalapeƱos and scotch bonnets like candy. Said friend deemed the bhut jolokia the hottest goddamned thing on the planet. He said it was like lava on the tongue. When D took a slice, he tucked the piece into his cheek, and soon after that half of his face went numb. This being work, he didn't have access to much stuff that could help quell the heat, so it took hours for the pain to fully recede.

The dried smoked one from Blair was similar -- actually (self-link by proxy alert) you can read about and watch the experience here -- although having had the fresh one a few months earlier no doubt prepared him for what to expect. He also had the benefit of having tried it at the Fancy Food Show, and since Blair's booth was right next to the France aisle, D was able to counteract the heat with generous samples of brie and baguettes. The fatty brie in particular helped knock out the heat a lot faster than other things he's tried in the past.

So! With all that said, my second-hand experience answers to your questions are as follows:

1. Yep, that hot. It's not a gimmick or a ploy or mass hysteria. They are ridiculously, face-meltingly hot.

2. How long it takes for the heat to die down is heavily dependent on what your husband eats in the wake of the pepper. As with most hot foods, he'll want to aim for dairy and/or sweet and/or starchy. AVOID WATER. It's the natural oils of the pepper that attack the taste buds and cause the sensation of heat, so he should go for things that will absorb the oil, rather than just push it around to other parts of the mouth.

Also, nthing the suggestion about wearing gloves to touch, dice, or otherwise come in contact with the pepper. It's easy to forget how many delicate things your fingers touch (eyes, nostrils, naughty bits, other people, pets), and I can guarantee you that none of those things want to share your agony.

Good luck, and yeah, totally videotape that shit. It's hilarious if you're not the one eating the pepper.
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:40 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Shiu Mai's husband here. Your husband's experience with a Bhut Jolokia, also known as the Naga Jolokia, will be a positive one only if he enjoys eating spicy food as a regular habit. I would advise against eating one if he hasn't built up a fairly strong heat tolerance.

It's kind of like roller coasters. Every so often, a theme park will advertise its newest ride, and it's the tallest/fastest/twistiest roller coaster EVAR. Now, I see that, and it certainly seems to be an exciting proposition, but I know that I don't like roller coasters - not even the "kiddie" ones that have cartoony faces on the engine, so no matter how appealing the marketing seems, I know I won't come out of it with any sense of enjoyment. The big parallel between the world's tallest/fastest/twistiest roller coaster and the Bhut Jolokia is this - YOU CAN'T GET OFF OF THE RIDE ONCE IT STARTS. The only thing that will defeat the burn of a Bhut Jolokia is time, about 20 to 30 minutes, and in that time the heat level will continue to build to unbelievably unanticipated levels before it starts to subside. Like a roller coaster, the endorphin rush is amazing, if that's what you're looking for.

My advice, if he is to try it:

Try only a small bit first. Like a fingernail clipping size, from the tip, without seeds. If he likes that, he can try a bigger piece after that. By no means should he just pop one into his mouth like a cherry pepper.
Really, he could hyperventilate and die.

Chew with only one side of your mouth - keeps the pain fairly isolated.
Remain calm. Fear is the mindkiller.

Don't drink anything. Keep yogurt handy.

If he cooks with it, he'll be the only one eating it.

Videotape it, absolutely. As pointed out upthread, there YouTube videos to be found by searching for 'Ghost Chile' or 'Ghost Pepper' or 'Jolokia,' all quite entertaining.
posted by Dammit - MetaFilter is Blocked at Work at 6:46 AM on August 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Random opinion: Don't waste good shrimp on a hotter-than-hell preparation. Do it with chicken, so at least you're going with something cheap, and you won't feel like you're missing out on subtle flavors because of the culinary napalm.
posted by Citrus at 7:59 AM on August 21, 2009

I would advise wearing eye protection in addition to gloves. I'm not joking. Also be advised: what goes in must come out. I've had some unpleasant experiences after eating hot food and I would probably not want to experience that with a super pepper.
posted by chairface at 3:23 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Husband does indeed like love hot things. (He's currently eating raw habaneros in a practice heat attempt, the crazy man. I'm not offering to punch him in the face though.) So that much we have down. He's still thinking the ghost peppers won't be such a big deal, whereas I'm the one more nervous about them.

And yeek, the youtube stuff make me think that yes, these things are powerful. I am definitely NOT planning on trying one.

I'm going to have the disposable gloves on hand for the peppers - good idea that. And keep an eye on our cat, who tends to follow husband into the kitchen, hoping something yummy will drop to the floor.

"Also be advised: what goes in must come out. I've had some unpleasant experiences after eating hot food and I would probably not want to experience that with a super pepper."

And THAT is something I'd not even considered. And I'm...I'm not really sure how to prepare for this. Or that I want to know.
Something to try on a weekend so you can have another day off for recovery if needed, I suppose...
posted by batgrlHG at 5:04 PM on August 23, 2009

Okay. I ate some.

They do seem about three times hotter than a habanero. Not that big a deal really.

In other words -
a) If you don't like to eat really hot food these will mess you up.
b) If you do like eating really hot foods these aren't that big a deal.

I worked with about five of them last night without gloves. No issues. Just use proper caution.

Seriously hot. Nice flavor (I'm using the dried ones. I thought they had a better flavor than dried habaneros. More peppery and a bit less citrus. Heat is much like a habanero x3 in effects, nothing weird. If I was going to make some very hot curry I'd likely put in two of them. I will most certainly be using them regularly.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:31 AM on August 25, 2009

Response by poster: I was foolish enough to try some dip tonight (a VERY tiny bit on a chip) that y6 made with those hell ghost peppers. Even though there weren't all that many in a large bowl of dip, the peppers were indeed hot - in a weird, mouth numbing kind of way. It's not quite like any hot food I've ever had before - it reminded me of going to the dentist and having my mouth numbed prior to cavity filling. Not at all pleasant, in other words.

Take y6's comments on heat with the warning that he's way too used to hot foods - and he's kept eating these peppers, even after several bites made him say "WOW!," turn a bit red in the face, and sweat copiously. I'm thinking that the reaction will vary from person to person, sometimes dramatically. And that there's probably a difference between the dried peppers (like the ones y6 ordered) and fresh ones. (Not that I have a clue if one or the other would be hotter.)

I also think the warnings about keeping hands gloved and pets away from the area were good advice. I scrubbed the kitchen counter and knives today in the areas where the peppers had been prep'd.
posted by batgrlHG at 8:36 PM on August 25, 2009

I had some coworkers who claimed to like really hot foods try them. The consensus is that they are "HOLY F@#$%ING SHIT!!!" hot, but nothing to freak out about.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:09 PM on August 26, 2009

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