Don’t know what it’s called, exactly . But god, is it spicy hot. Mom calls it Ot Hiem (Dangerous pepper), we call it the Devil pepper and others say it’s a thai chili variety. Though it looks like the typical thai chili from a distance, it’s possesses at least 3 times the potency. It’s shorter and slightly fatter at the base then the thai chili and it’s most dangerous when it’s black (right before it starts to ripen to red). Defying gravity, the always shiny fruit grows upwards to the sky. The leaves of this devil pepper are short, round, dark green and full of small white hairs. When looking at the plant from a distance, the leaves look almost grayish around the edges because of the white hairs. It’s not even commonly found in Vietnamese stores. Only some Viet gardeners dare to nurture these evil specimens in their gardens and we’ve been able to occasionally find the plant at some random Viet grocery stores and sidewalk street vendors.
It’s true to it’s given common name because it is spicier than any jalapeno, habanero, thai or any other chili we’ve had. It’s so spicy that our pepper loving fanatics have to take it slow when biting into these heathen chilies. We warned a certain individual (you know who you are) to wash his hands after handling the seeds of the devil pepper. He’s young vigorous man and thought he was impervious to any heat that chilies give off. Well, that was until he forgot to wash his hands thoroughly before he went to the bathroom. He was humbled to the fifth degree. End of story.
The allure of these devil peppers is not just because of it’s intense heat, but because of its remarkable flavor. The distinct, fragrant smell is still something we can’t describe, other than identifying it as the “devil pepper smell”. But when it’s crushed into sauces and dips, it’s special flavor makes everyone wonder what the secret ingredient is. Does anyone have the botanical name of this particular pepper species? We grow it, eat it and love it. But don’t know what the heck it’s real name is.
Vietnamese Chili Salt Dip
Yield: 1/4 cup
Total Time: 1 hour
- 2 Thai Chili or any red chili pepper
- 3 table spoons sea salt
- sprinkle of paprika (optional)
- Crush chili in a bowl . Add sea salt and continue crushing chili's until the juices are released into the salt. The more you crush, the more heat you add to the mixture, so beware! For a more smoky flavor sprinkle in some paprika. Let the chili juices dry out in the salt mixture for about 1 hour.
- Use as a dipping condiment for green mangoes or in any recipe to enhance it's salt and spicy flavors.