WHAT IS IT?
If you need to bring the heat without a flavor, cayenne pepper brings the heat without savory or sweet. This bright red night shade is a common spicy additive to hot dishes around the world. It is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units.
A staple if you’re Cajun. A must have in every kitchen.
Feisty! Intensely red, this powder, desired for its medium-high heat and neutral flavor, can be added to virtually any dish, any flavor palette from any cuisine.
The fruits are picked red after 100 days of maturation, and either cooked fresh, or allowed to dry and cure, either in the sun, or in ovens, before being ground into powder.
A little goes a long way. Pinching it over foods is one of the best ways of distributing it, but, if you don’t use good gloves, make sure you wash your hands well, and avoid touching your eyes.
A cousin of the Bird’s Eye Chili, it brings on less heat and less flavor.
Cayenne is hot because of its high capsaicin content. Capsaicin, is hydrophobic. That means it doesn’t mix with water well., Drop it into any oil, though, or anything with a fat, and it will work its way in. When it hits your mouth, capsaicin actually passes through the walls of your cheeks and the taste buds on your tongue. That is why you can’t get it out by drinking.
Salt is one of the better ways of getting it out of your mouth. Hint: That’s why margarita glasses are typically rimmed with kosher salt.
Acidic foods like tomatoes and pineapple also draw down on the heat. If you want to accentuate the heat, use oil or alcohols for human consumption.
Fresh, you will get more of the nutrition. Cayenne is is high in vitamin A, and contains vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, and manganese. Cayenne pepper consumption dilates the blood vessels and speeds the metabolism due to the high amounts of capsaicin. It can aid in improved liver function, and help maintain long-term weight loss. Unfortunately, many of the foods that cayenne is used to heat up are high in fats. As part of a low-fat diet, though, it can be generally beneficial, in moderation. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years.
The word cayenne seems to come from “kian,” or”kyinha, the name of a pepper cultivated by the Tupi Indians in what is now French Guiana. The word is a French interpretation, cayenne. Capsicum annum can be grown in a variety of locations including tropical and temperate zones. Unlike other chiles, soil differences seem to be less impactful on its flavor. It is grown around the world, although most of the product available on U.S. store shelves comes from India and Africa. SpiceJungle gets theirs in India.
- Jambalaya rice
- Blackened-seasoned meats, fish, and poultry
- Andouille sausages, tasso ham, and other Cajun meats
- Pepper sauces, especially Louisiana hot sauces.
A FEW IMPROVISATIONAL RIFFS
- Add a pinch to hot chocolate for some nice spice.
- Sprinkle across your dip for hummus with a little neat heat!
- Bayou Beef Burgundy Stew’s sweet heat;
- I add it to my pineapple onion salsa to give it kick and maintain the flavor
Cayenne was domesticated in Central and South America, cultivated as a crop in Mexico around 7,000 years ago. It traces back 4,000 years in Peru. Native Americans used cayenne first wild, then domesticated, both for food and medicine for 9,000 years. It was first brought to Europe in the fifteenth century by Christopher Columbus, but became a staple export of French Guyana.
The pepper’s French Guyanese colonial exports of this prized pepper found their way into the pimenter Français arsenal of culinary spices. Used mostly in soups and stews to amp up the salt, it made its way back into North America with the French Canadians and the Acadians, a French sect whose contributions to world cuisine would be a 230 year-long journey.
Acadians converted marshes into thriving farm lands along the coastal plains of Northeastern America. The sect did not fight with or against either the French or the British. For the most part, their 15,000 or so members lived peacefully for nearly two hundred years in Eastern Canada.
In 1754, when Major Charles Lawrence tried to get them to align with the British, and renounce their faith, they were arrested, lands burned, and expelled.
A decade of harrassment, imprisonment, and wandering in search of a home later brought some of the Acadians to Southern Louisiana. They settled the swamps and bayous, and made their home from the unwanted land that the Spanish, who then owned the American territory, shunned. The peppers came with the Acadians to Louisiana.
As time went on, and they began to marry more outside of their sect, the spouses developed the nickname “Cajun” a corruption of “Acadian.” The Cajuns became masters of cooking with cayenne’s heat, using it in dozens of dishes.
Cayenne became a relatively obscure spice in the conformist cooking of the 1950s. It was almost forgotten in North America and Europe, outside of Louisiana, until the 1980’s. Chef Paul Prudhomme, who had brought a few traditional cajun dishes into his kitchen at the Brennans’ Commander’s Palace, opened his own restaurant, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen. The small restaurant on Chartres Street b and published his landmark book Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen in 1984, that the magic of cayenne pepper and Cajun cuisine went global.
- guinea spice
- cow-horn pepper
- bird pepper
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