Field Notes

Pepper of the Week: Prik Chi Faa

Little is known on this week's Pepper of the Week. However, this chili pepper has left a lasting effect on the taste buds of many people across the globe. Many just don't know that. That's because Prik Chi Faa is the unsung hero of a niche group of hot saucers. Just who are we talking about? Read on! 

What is a Prik Chi Faa Pepper?

Okay, first...let's get to the bottom of pronouncing this pepper. The correct way is:
phrikH cheeH faaH

Formal greetings out of the way, the Prik Chi Faa has a slightly sweet taste with a moderate-to-hot flavor profile. When picked early, the green Prik Chi Faa Peppers are popular to use in stir-fries.

Prik Chi Faa
Image via Kitazawa

The longer Prik Chi Faa harvest, the more heat these peppers begin to pack. Then, they are dried up and ground into spices or thrown into popular Thai dishes such as Pad Thai. These crispy Eastern peppers run the Scoville gamut from 5,000 SHU to 30,000 SHU. 

History of the Prik Chi Faa Pepper and Sriracha

Not much has been said about the history of this pepper. However, Prik Chi Faa is infamous for spawning the popular sriracha craze still going strong today!  

Sriracha

Image via Paul Narvaez

Do you love Sriracha? Yeah, well the Thai people don't. That's because the Vietnamese-American version tastes nothing like theirs! The concept of Sriracha came from Thailand. A woman named Thanom Chakkapark from a community known as Sri Racha created the blueprint for today's Sriracha.
Ms. Chakkapark envisioned a cocktail sauce that would compliment the abundance of seafood in her seaside community. She integrated the following ingredients to make the prototype for the sauce dangling from keychains that we see today.
  • Prik Chi Faa
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Sugar

These ingredients would ferment in a cask for three months. The finished product is a liquidy substance almost the consistency of Tabasco sauce. Compared to the Sriracha we know, the spice level was quite mild.

How to Use Prik Chi Faa Peppers?

These peppers are very versatile. They are semi-sweet and slightly bitter. Due to such a range of notes, you can use Prik Chi Faa Peppers to compliment any dish. 

Some of the popular ways to use Prik Chi Faa Peppers include:

  • Raw Oyster Shooters
  • Khai Jiao Wok-Fried Omelette
  • Fried Food Sauce
  • Pad Thai
  • Seafood

Popular Ways to Use Prik Chi Faa Peppers

One of the methods Thai cuisine uses Prik Chi Faa is by grinding the pepper up into a paste. That way you can use it as a base in any broth, stir-fry, or even a blended beverage. Add a pinch of The Chili Lab Forager's Blend Flakes for an added flavor burst!

Prik Chi Faa Paste

Image via Curious Cuisiniere

Ingredients:

  • Dried Prik Chi Faa Chilies 
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Shallot, Chopped
  • 1/2 Stalk Lemongrass
  • 1/2 Inch Fresh Ginger
  • 1/2 Lime
  • 2 T Vegetable Oil
  • Cayenne Powder

To get the recipe, check out Curious Cuisiniere

How to Use Prik Chi Faa in a Meal

What if you don't want to make a paste? Do something a little more natural to your roots...Make a marinade. We've all made a delicious marinade a time or two, and this one is no exception. Sprinkle in some of The Chili Lab Grove Blend Chili Flakes to add some citrus nuance to this Thai-inspired dish. Here is a recipe for Crying Tiger Beef.

Crying Tiger BeefImage via 196 Flavors

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 3 T FLish Sauce
  • 3 T Tamarind Paste
  • Lime Juice
  • 2 T Palm Sugar
  • 2 T Water
  • 2 T Soy Saice
  • 1 Prik Chi Faa Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Inch Ginger
  • 1 Stalk Lemongrass
  • 3 Thai Basil Leaves
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • 1 Thai Scallion, Chopped

Get the full recipe at 196 Flavors

Get Social with Prik Chi Faa Pepper

Feel like a Prik Chia Faa Know-It-All. Spread the knowledge with us on Instagram all week long!

 

Pepper of the Week: Fish Pepper

Welcome to The Chili Lab Pepper of the Week Breakdown. This week, we go beyond the heat...and into the waters with fish pepper.

Fish PeppersImage via Jocelyn Dale

Okay, the only thing fishy about this pepper is what you serve it with. In fact, this pepper doesn't taste like it was plucked out of the water at all. So, why is the fish pepper...the fish pepper? Let's take a look!

What is a Fish Pepper?

The fish pepper rose to prominence in the Caribbean. Contrary to what we call it, the fish pepper earned its name not for having an aquatic flavor. Rather, fish peppers garnered their moniker in thanks to the foods they were often paired with. Popular in oyster bars and crab houses, these peppers became the company they kept, earning them their fishy name.

History of the Fish Pepper

While the fish pepper gained notoriety in North American islands, these colorful fruits slowly made its way to the mainland. Unfortunately, this was due to the fish pepper's popularity with slaves.

Africans brought fish pepper over to the Americas. They enjoyed the kick this chili pepper gave other foods. In the Chesapeake Bay area, many Africans would puree the pepper. From there, they would spread the creamy concoction over their shellfish. 

Thankfully, slavery became abolished. An unexpected result saw the decline of fish pepper. However, one African folk artist, Horace Pippin, kept the seeds of fish peppers alive since the 1940s.

Over time, Pippin passed the seeds onto future generations. Due to Mr. Pippin's green thumb, the fish pepper is now seeing a resurgence in the 21st century among foodies of all cultures!

How to Use Fish Pepper?

Although not confirmed, many say the fish pepper is a cross between the serrano pepper and cayenne pepper. Its flavor profile can be described as:

  • Crunchy
  • Fresh
  • Bitter

When fish peppers are picked at different points in their life cycle, they bring on different levels of heat. At green, they exhibit low levels of fire. As fish peppers mature into red pods, they bring on a serious kick.

Fish Pepper Scoville

Due to such a variant degree of heat, the Scoville level of fish pepper can range anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 SHU.

While you can puree fish pepper or add it to a sauce, the best way to enjoy fish pepper is through pickling. That way you can toss these flavorful peppers into any salad or on top of a burger for a sweet-and-sour experience. 

How to Pickle Fish Peppers

Pickling is a fun, easy, cost-effective, and healthy way to get your fish pepper on! What is so great about pickling is that you can pick and choose what you want to throw into your batch. It's an ever-evolving process. However, if you don't know where to start, let us help you.

Pickled Fresh Peppers

"Pickled
Image via Coconut & Lime
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups whole ripe fish peppers 
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon white peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon pickling salt

To learn more, read the recipe @ Coconut & Lime

Fresh Pepper Piccalilli


Ingredients: 

  • 5 green tomatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 fish peppers
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (toasted and smashed)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • salt to taste

Read more by checking out This Must Be The Taste.

Get Social with Fish Pepper

Feel like a fish pepper aficionado now? Well, join us on Instagram for even more fish pepper fun. Also, be sure to check in for next week's #POW...PRIK CHI FAA

Hot Sauce Master Class: Preserving Chilies

We can chalk up the invention of hot sauce to a time before refrigeration. It’s more than likely that the first chili pepper condiments were made as a way to stretch out the summer chili crops. There are two main methods for preserving peppers: fermenting with salt and pickling with vinegar. Fermenting peppers requires a little bit of patience, but it yields exceptional results. Many of the popular brands of hot sauce on the market (Tabasco, Texas Pete, and Frank’s) owe their depth of flavor to an aging process that starts with a pepper mash—essentially peppers that have been fermented with a salt-brine. Another method of putting up peppers is pickling, most commonly with a vinegar brine. Heavily salted liquids like fish sauce, or alcohols like sherry also make excellent brines. The latter is a fixture of Caribbean cuisine, and is the simplest condiment to make from scratch. After the peppers have soaked in the sherry for a few days, you can use both the peppers and the liquid.

Hot Sauce Field Guide: Nam Prik

There is no better example of the balance between sweet, salty, sour and spicy than this Thai condiment. To make this chili jam, dried chilies, shallots and garlic are fried to bring out their flavors, then blended with a mix of brown sugar and dried shrimp paste, and finished with fish sauce. If the idea of shrimp paste freaks you out, you can omit it—the jam will still be delicious.

Yield: 2 cups

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 1/2 ounces dried chilies
  • 25 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 5 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons shrimp paste
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce

Add the oil to a skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chilies and fry, stirring , for half a minute, taking care not to burn them. Transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate. Add the garlic to the skillet and fry for about 15 seconds, until barely brown, then transfer to the plate with the chilies. Add the shallots and fry until crispy, about 1 minute. Transfer to the plate with the chilies. Remove the skillet from heat, leaving the oil in the pan.

Place the chilies, garlic and shallots in a food processor and process until a paste forms. Set aside.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the shrimp paste, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Then stir in the reserved chili paste, 2 tablespoons water and the fish sauce. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture is combined and slightly thickened. Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.