Field Notes

Pepper of the Week: Bulgarian Carrot Pepper

#POW
Pepper of the Week:
Bulgarian Carrot Pepper

This week's #POW brings the pow as Bug Bunny does to Elmer Fudd. We're talking a carrot pepper. Our Pepper of the Week is the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper. Also known as shipka, the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper can be used a variety of ways. From salsa recipes to hot sauce...heck, even bread, we've got you covered. Let's get to know a bit about the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper. 

What is a Bulgarian Carrot Pepper?

This heirloom pepper has a unique flavor profile. It's a tad bit sweet with the bite of spice we know and love from jalapeño. As the name implies, at its full maturity, the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper resembles a carrot. 

Bulgarian Carrot Pepper

Image via Mad Meat Genius

Characteristics of a Bulgarian Carrot Pepper:

🌶 Heat intensity: Medium to Hot

🌶 Size: 2 -5 inches 

🌶 Scoville Units: 5,000 to 30,000 SHU

🌶 Flavor Profiles: Sweet, Tangy, Bit of Heat

This pepper brings a nice pop to your plate. Its versatility allows you to spice up a breakfast omelet, bring some crunch to a lunchtime salad, or a savory bread perfect to dip into your soup!

History of the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper

The modern-day Bulgarian Pepper is believed to be cross-between habanero pepper commonly found in the Caribbean and an old-school Bulgarian pepper. This pepper was known as the Shipka. 

Shipka is a term to describe a range of prickly shrubs. In particular, Bulgarians have dubbed wild roses as shipkas. Based on the color of the original Bulgarian Carrot Pepper resembling rose hips, it earned the shipka name. Although, others also say the name came from the small town of Shipka that lies in the center of Bulgaria. That's the mystery that comes along with history!

The pepper stayed around the Black Sea and Greece until the 1980s. This orange-hued pepper found its way to the Caribbean region when the pepper was smuggled out of the Iron Curtain.

Winston Churchill came up with the term, "Iron Curtain" to describe the divide of a post-World War II Europe.

Winston Churchill, Iron Curtain Speech

Winston Churchill "Iron Curtain Speech

Image via Missouri State Archives

One side was aligned with the States, while the other was under Soviet rule. Sometime during the 1980s, the peppers crossed the sea. While they still thrive in colder areas, Bulgarian Carrot Peppers can be found in the States today!

Bulgarian Carrot Pepper Recipes

Now that you know a thing or two about this unique pepper, let's give you some Bulgarian Carrot Pepper recipes!

Bulgarian Carrot Pepper Bread

Nothing compliments a hot soup, makes better use of spaghetti sauce, or hold together a sandwich like a delicious bread. This savory recipe courtesy of PermaCulture News will have your mouth watering and your belly satisfied!

Ingredients:

🌶 1- 8oz Package Cream Cheese (Softened) 
🌶 2 Large Farm Fresh Eggs
🌶 4 cups Mozzarella Cheese
🌶 2-3 Bulgarian Carrot Peppers 
🌶 2 cups Almond Flour
🌶 2 tsp. Aluminum-free Baking Powder

Get the full recipe at PermaCulture News. 

Bulgarian Carrot Pepper Salsa

Salsas are great because you dip chips, dress up your eggs, or add a kick to your baked chicken breast. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to tag us on Instagram @TheChiliLab! Here is the recipe courtesy of Feed Your Skull

The Salsa Recipe

Image via Feed Your Skull

Ingredients:

🌶 2 - 14.5 oz cans of Muir Glen Diced Tomatoes (No Salt)
🌶 1 cup Lightly Packed Cilantro, Chopped
🌶 1 cup Diced Onion
🌶  4 Cloves Garlic, Minced

🌶 1 Bulgarian Carrot Pepper
🌶 1/2 Lime
🌶 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt

For an extra kick, add a little citrus burst with The Chili Lab Grove Blend Chili Flakes. Get the recipe via Feed Your Skull here.

Bulgarian Carrot Chile Sauce Recipe

Seeing as we have our own At-Home Homemade Hot Sauce Kit, we can't help but share a hot sauce recipe for this week's Pepper of the Week! Let's take a look at this recipe courtesy of the Mad Meat Genius.

Bulgarian Chile Hot Sauce

Image via Mad Meat Genius

Ingredients:

🌶 ½ pound of Bulgarian Carrot Pepper 
🌶 ½ Small Onion, Chopped
🌶 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
🌶¼ cup of Vinegar
🌶 ½ cup of Water
🌶 1 Tablespoon Sugar (Honey)

 Get the complete recipe at Mad Meat Genius.

Celebrate Pepper of the Week

Now that you know the 4-1-1 on the Bulgarian Carrot Pepper, join in on the fun. Follow us @TheChiliLab on Instagram and celebrate all things Bulgarian Carrot Pepper all week long!

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

Long before we came out with our hot sauce making kit, we can chalk up the invention of hot sauce to a time prior to 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.

Fermented with Salt Chili Peppers

salt

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.

Pickled Peppers in Vinegar

Pixabay - Pickled Peppers

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.

Now that you have the preserved chilies taken care of, do you have some dried chilies you need to put to good use? For one, you can try rehydrating chilies.

Otherwise, make your own hot sauce. Try out our Homemade Sauce Kit where you can make two unique hot sauces in your own kitchen (with little effort and little clean up)!