Get hot under the collar: Asia’s spiciest food
WE’VE all got that one friend who proclaims, “I don’t think it’s spicy” before chocking on the oxygen that turns to fire in their mouths as they pant for air.
Whether your tolerance for spice is as much a spaghetti bolognese or an Indian vindaloo, the dishes that have made it onto this list are eye-wateringly hot, and that’s before your dinner has even kissed your lips with its fiery tongue.
We present, for your tongue tingling enjoyment, Asia’s hottest dishes.
Chongqing Hotpot – China
While hotpots can be found all over China, the beef-fat-drizzled, kitchen-sink-sized bowl of hot soup, full of fiery fresh and dried chilies, makes the Chongqing hotpot especially spicy.
Accompanying the overwhelming amount of chilies is tenderized meat, usually beef, but chicken and mutton can also be found marinating in there, alongside some 20 other herbs and spices.
Whatever you decide to dip into the soup, be it tofu, vegetables or more meat, your taste buds will be temporarily fixed into a state of spicy euphoria.
Instant Chili Pickle – India
This Indian dish is sure to get you in a pickle with its hot, spicy and tangy flavors. Originating from the Rajasthani region, this pickle has developed into a favorite dish across India.
The dish can be prepared in less than 15 minutes using only one pan. While recipes differ from region to region and household to household, most cooking instructions include fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, coriander and of course as many green chilies as your palate can handle.
Either pinch a pickle and drop it into your mouth, layer them inside a roti and eat it as a fiery wrap filling or enjoy them as a side dish with your main meal.
Jjigae – South Korea
Korean winters last for what seems like years and are bitterly cold. So, what better way to warm up than with dishes that are physically hot and crazy-spicy hot?
Jjigae will warm you up from the inside out.
This dish is one of the most popular dishes in South Korea and can be found in many restaurants and on plenty of dinner tables.
The dish consists of thick cuts of pork, seafood or fresh tofu in a stew-like appearance, it is served in a boiling pot to keep it hot for as long as it takes the diners to chow through it.
The extreme spiciness is added by the red chili paste or from chili-covered-kimchi-cabbage which is a staple in any Korean’s diet.
Hot and spicy Tom Yum – Thailand
Tom Yum soup knocks on each of the tongue’s flavor receptors.
First, it hits the middle where your tongue thinks it’s entirely sour, but as the soup fills your mouth the salty, sweet and bitter senses come into play for a taste explosion.
The soup combines chicken or seafood with citrus and Thai Bird’s Eye chilies.
These rank between 50,000 and 100,000 on the spicy scale, also known as the Scoville scale. In comparison, a jalapeno chili only reaches around 5,000 on the chart.
Eat with caution or expect steam to escape your ears.
Sambal – Indonesia
This may not be a dish eaten on its own unless you’re a masochist or desire stomach ulcers, but it deserves a very worthy mention.
It can be found in almost every corner of Southeast Asia, just waiting to give a fiery condiment-kick to any dish.
This hot sauce contains the reddest chilies, shallots, sugar and sometimes fruits. Depending on where you try the paste, it may also contain shrimp – but it will always leave your lips tingling.
If you’re yet to sample this saucy little number, go for it but go easy, unless you’re happy to buy all the cucumbers and milk in the store to create a cooling off sanctuary for your mouth.
Spicy Buffalo Wings – Singapore
“What the heck, buffalo wings?” is probably what you’re saying to yourself. But these little nibbles of sticky deliciousness pack a hefty punch and Singaporeans love them.
One of the most notorious places to try devilishly hot chicken wings is at the Sunset Grill and Pub in Jalan Kayu, Singapore.
Daredevils flock in numbers to this no-frills restaurant to experience some of the world’s hottest buffalo wings.
The spiciness scale here is ranked from one to 35, and according to the reports from those brave enough to sample the hot-chicken-glazes, anything above 10 is likely to scald your mouth and send tears streaming down your face.
“We took up the challenge to try level 35. I was tearing so much, but happy tears”, attested one brave soul.
This list is in no way extensive, and we’re sure there are plenty of other sizzling specialties hiding around across Asia. What has been your most extreme dish?