Is That Hot Enough for You?

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South China Seas carries dozens of chile varieties, fresh and dried, whole, ground, flaked or cut into threads, from Peru, Korea, Mexico, Turkey, Thailand and elsewhere. We also carry a several peppercorn varieties, including fresh green peppercorns from South East Asia.

We have just added more, including Long Peppers, Cubeb Peppers and the world’s hottest chile.

Ghost Chile (Naga Jolokia)


Ghost Chiles (Naga Jolokia, Bhut Jolokia) The heat of chiles is rated in Scoville Units. A rating of 100 indicates that a chile must be diluted 100:1 before its heat becomes undetectable. A Serrano comes in at about 15,000, a Habanero at about 200,000 and a Ghost Chile (Naga Jolokia, Bhut Jolokia: Naga = Cobra, Bhut = Ghost, Jolokia = Chile) at a scary 1,000,000. But it is not just hot, it has a very pleasant smoky, fruity flavour. It is popular in Northeast India, in sauces, raw, as an elephant repellant, and surprisingly, as a cure for stomach ills. Use it as you would any other chile, but very, very carefully, Eye contact is dangerous. All skin contact should be avoided. Keep away from pets, children and adolescent boys.

Cubeb Pepper


Cubeb pepper (piper cubebae), or tailed pepper, is related to black pepper. The fragrance is bright, citrusy and refreshing; the flavour hot, pungent, resinous and bitter. Once popular in European cuisine, its culinary use is now largely limited to Indonesia and North Africa. Cubeb is important in Arabic, Western, Ayurvedic, Tibetan and Chinese medicine and in several folk magic traditions. It is thought to cure infertility and to provoke desire and increase sexual pleasure. Use ground in Indonesian curries, North African soups, stews, even pastries and sweets – and wherever your imagination takes you. In addition to its culinary uses, cubeb is used in Shiseido anti-aging cosmetics and some perfumes. Famously, it is infused into Bombay Sapphire Gin (as is orris root, also available at SCS).

Long Pepper

Long pepper (piper longum), is related to black pepper. The fragrance is delightfully sweet, floral and woody, the flavour numbingly hot and lingering, with a fruitiness reminiscent of capsicums. Once popular and highly valued in European cuisine (Attila the Hun included long peppers in his ransom demands in the siege of Rome), its culinary use is now largely limited to Malaysia, Indonesia, India and North Africa. It shouldn’t be; long pepper is a wonderfully pleasant alternative to black pepper – difficult to grind (pepper mills won’t work), but well worth the effort. Chop it on a cutting board or grind it in a Thai granite mortar.