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7 spicy foods that have the X factor

14th July 2020 Print

It might be worth keeping a large glass of water nearby for this gastronomic tour of some of the globe’s spiciest foods, including spice-laden tom yum and taste-bud-searing vindaloo – sure to make your eyes water with one bite!

Not only are the seven foods on this list hot, they’re also very popular. From soups and meats to stews and seafood cakes, these dishes span various countries and continents, but you can still find them served in ethnic eateries in the UK – and you can make them at home.

If you like a little heat but want to keep things on the milder side, consider serving up spiced wedges by McCain. These lightly spiced chips can be cooked in less than 15 minutes under the grill – perfect if you’re unsure whether you could handle a spicier dish, such as one from our list.

Read on to discover the world’s fieriest foods that have the X factor.

1. Tom Yum (Thailand)

Originating in Thailand, tom yum is usually made up of chicken and seafood, and adored for its fragrant taste. What gives the soup some serious heat is the Thai bird’s eye chilli, which is comparable with a habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper on the Scoville scale.

This spicy and sour soup is also packed with a variety of other ingredients, like kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, lemongrass, fish sauce and galangal. If you prefer seafood, ask for tom yum goong or if you’re a fan of meat, go for tom yum gai (chicken).

The dish is usually a vibrant shade of red or orange, reflecting its heat. Think of it as a culinary traffic light warning you that it’s seriously hot!

2. Papa a la Huancaina (Peru)

Arguably the most humble dish on the list, papa a la huancaina is a Peruvian appetiser consisting of hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, olives and cheese sauce. While you may think it looks a little like eggs Benedict, it doesn’t taste anything like it.

The yellow cheese sauce is made using aji Amarillo (which gives it the yellow hue) as well as habanero peppers – two ingredients guaranteed to set your mouth on fire.

3. Vindaloo Pork (India)

Thought to have originated in Portugal, India’s vindaloo is commonly found in Goa. Typically, it includes lamb or pork together with potatoes, vinegar, red chillies – and, either Kashmiri chilli or the more intense Bhut jolokia.

Also known as the ghost chilli, Bhut jolokia is the world’s hottest pepper. While Portuguese chefs preserved pork in red wine, peppers and garlic, Indian chefs replaced wine with palm vinegar, threw in some hotter red peppers and made it curry-based.

4. Sik Sik Wat (Ethiopia)

This Ethiopian stew is made up of lamb, chicken, beef, spices and vegetables as well as a purified butter.

What makes this stew stand out from others is that it starts with chopped onions that are cooked slowly without oil or fat in a dry pot or pan. Next, the onions and other spices are fried in fat, enabling the onions to soften and thicken up the stew.

Traditionally, Wat is served over injera, a flatbread made from teff flour. The heat comes from a spice mix made up of garlic, chillies, basil, ginger and a host of fiery extras!

5. Jerk Chicken (Jamaica)

Sweet, tangy and spicy, this dish is a speciality in Jamaica, despite the fact most people don’t know how it gets its fieriness.

The main ingredients used in jerk chicken include habanero peppers or Scotch bonnet together with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, garlic, thyme and spring onions.

6. Otak-Otak (Indonesia)

While this dish might mean 'brain' in Indonesian, don’t be put off. Otak-otak is actually a delicious grilled fishcake consisting of minced fish, spices, tapioca starch, plated up inside a banana leaf. Shrimp paste and galangal are used alongside some of the spiciest peppers in the area to pep up the cake!

7. Kimchi Jjigae (Korea)

This Korean dish will earn you some brownie points on the heat scale. Made from green onions, tofu, mushrooms, garlic as well as loads of red chillies, kimchi jjigae is gradually simmered until the broth is saturated and able to reach the perfect amount of heat. What’s more, kimchi jjigae is served blisteringly hot – so be sure to have a glass of milk beside you,

Why not brave one of these spicy dishes? From the scorching depths of habaneros to Scotch bonnets and ghost chillies, these seven spicy dishes definitely ramp up the heat!