Not for the faint-hearted, the Scotch bonnet chili is a fiery pepper that packs a punch! Here's how to use it, plus some tips for making a delicious hot pepper sauce.
If you have ever tried your hand at Caribbean cooking, it is likely that you would have come across recipes calling for Scotch bonnet chilli.
You may have substituted standard red chillis, or maybe even birds eye chillis, but the heat levels they offer don’t quite compare to those of the Scotch bonnet!
If you want to recreate true Caribbean spice in your food, it is essential that you use Scotch bonnet chilli.
Other common names for the Scotch bonnet include Jamaican Hot, Bonney peppers, Scotty Cons or goat peppers.
When measuring the level of heat that a chilli pepper produces, a scale called the Scoville Heat Units (SHU) is used.
To put things into a bit of perspective for you, a jalapeño sits at 5000 on the SHU scale, whereas a scotch bonnet can measure in at a whopping 100,000 - 300,000!
Much like the habanero pepper, at full maturity, the Scotch bonnet chilli can be found in a range of colors, most typically red or yellow. But you can also find varieties that include orange, peach and even brownish colors!
It generally measures anywhere between 1-2.5 inches in length and about the same in diameter. It almost has a hat like appearance, which is how this chilli got its name!
Whilst you may think its hard to describe the flavor of a chilli other than ‘hot’ or ‘spicy’, there are complexities to such spice levels that can actually have flavor comparisons.
The heat flavors that a Scotch bonnet offers include hints of apple, cherry and tomato. Essentially, it has an overall fruity flavor with a touch of sweetness too.
If you find that the heat level of a Scotch bonnet is a bit too much for you, you can cut away the white tissue found within the pepper.
Always remember, when handling any chilli peppers, to wear gloves to prevent any of the residue from getting on your hands. Additionally, you should always wash your hands even after removing your gloves and thoroughly clean your chopping board.
Using Scotch bonnet chili to make pepper sauce
In addition to using whole or sliced Scotch bonnet chillis in Caribbean cooking, you will find that many recipes call for hot pepper sauce. You can actually make your own hot pepper sauce using Scotch bonnet! Here’s how you make it:
10 scotch bonnets, chopped*
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 chayote, peeled and chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped pineapple
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice and zest from 2 limes
*if you prefer a milder hot pepper sauce, use less chillis
1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
2. Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a boil, followed by reducing the heat to a gentle simmer. Let simmer for an hour for the flavors to develop.
3. Cool and put into a jar or sealed container. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.
Scotch bonnet chilis are ideal for making Jamaican Jerk Chicken