Some Like it Hot

If you’re reading this blog, you probably like your food spicy. You’re like me, and you might even be reading this blog in order to find more ways to incorporate hot sauce and peppers into your foods. That just makes good sense to me. However, we need to accept two significant things: 1) not everybody has the same tolerance for spicy awesomeness, and 2) just because we don’t think something is too hot doesn’t mean that others are going to think the same thing. Therefore, we’ve got to be patient with people and make some accommodations when we’re cooking for a group, or even other members of our own family. I have found a few workarounds you might appreciate.

First, if I am going to cook for people that I know have weaker palates than I do, I can find a sauce that has a similar taste to what I like and find a more mild version. If you’re using actual peppers, you can also substitute what you usually use with something lower on the Scoville scale that brings the same kind of taste. Or, you can do a really thorough job of scraping the sides and taking the seeds out of the pepper, since that’s where most of the heat is located. That might help cut down on the number of flames shooting out of your ears.

However, that isn’t really fair to those of us who enjoy more of the heat. Sohere’s another option, which requires doing more cooking. If you’re going to use hot sauce as a marinade or chile peppers as an ingredient, make a “hot” version and a “mild” version. I usually make the mild version first, and keep it separate – and clearly marked – so nobody accidentally has their taste buds fall asleep or surprisingly burst into flames. Making the mild version first helps with cross-contamination. It’s easier to go from mild to hot than from hot to mild. Also, unless you know the crowd you are cooking for, it’s hard to guesstimate how much of each item to make. But sometimes this is a good choice, because everybody gets what they want. If you’re the one who likes things spicy and you’re doing the cooking, you might not even mind the extra work because you’re getting what you want.

The last option is probably the easiest: I put out a bunch of sauces and provide my guests with shallow dipping bowls. Then they can choose the heat level they want and the amount that works for them. I also provide some blue cheese dip and milk for those who overestimate their ability to take the heat. Or, you can leave some peppers in a bowl along with other condiments and let people decide on their own how much, if any, they want. Even using the pepper as a garnish can be a subtle reminder to guests that they can bring the heat if they want. Plus it just looks good there.