Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How I fell in love with habaneros

By 3pm it had been a very long day. We had gotten up at 5am to catch our flight from New York to Atlanta and another from there to Cancun. When we finally sat down to lunch at the Le Meridien pool restaurant all I wanted was a drink and a bite that was at least vaguely Mexican. What I got instead was a new love in the form of an extremely spicy sauce: the habanero pepper. The waiter called it 'green fire' and warned me to use just a little of it on my shrimp tacos. I tried it, my mouth spiked and burned and I fell in love.

Habaneros are native to the Yucatan peninsula and popped up unripe (green) and mixed with olive oil to drizzle over foodstuffs at nearly every restaurant we visited in the Cancun area. They are the smallest, hottest pepper. A mere drop of the stuff can set your lips tingling.

I haven't yet been able to find green habaneros in my local grocery store, but the ripe (orange) ones work just as well. Warning: Once the peppers have been roasted, you MUST wear latex gloves or put your hands in plastic bags to handle them. If you don't your hands will burn and itch for days. If you happen to touch them with a bare finger, please resist the urge to touch your eyes. Yeah. Not fun.....I've, uh...heard.

Orange Habanero Sauce

8 Habanero Peppers
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A bit of water

Set your over to 'broil.' Remove stems from peppers. Place in a single layer on a baking dish. Broil until peppers are blackened and blistered. Remove from oven and dump into food processor. Process until the peppers resemble a paste. With motor running, add olive oil and a little water until mixture has a 'saucy' consistency.

Put judiciously on any food that benefits from a big kick.

Habanero Mayo

Mix the Habanero Sauce with mayo in a 1 to 4 ratio. Enjoy on sandwiches and burgers.

Have fun...and make sure you keep some milk nearby to fight potential flare-ups!

1 comment:

Daniel said...

that stuff is no joke