Given some of my initial experiences with Thai chili peppers, it’s kind of amazing that I still cook with them.
There were the times that I went to bed with intense burning in my hands after mincing chilis to use in a stir fry for dinner. Or the times that I bit into a whole chili in my soup, causing me to dance around the dining room like my mouth was literally on fire. And I’ll never forget the time that a piece of Thai chili flew out of the mortar and pestle and landed right in my eye…
These early experiences showed me, first hand, that Thai chili peppers are some of the spiciest peppers out there. The mature red peppers are hotter than the young green variety, although both are quite hot. In general, Thai chili peppers are said to be approximately 10-20 times hotter than jalapeno peppers.
Fortunately I was not deterred by my initial mishaps with these peppers because they really are essential in Thai cooking. Thai chili peppers, sometimes also known as bird’s eye chilis, can be found in some form or another in all kinds of Thai dishes. Fresh Thai chilis are used in many soups such as tom yum goong and tom kha gai, salads such as som tam, and stir fries including pad gaprow. Some dishes call for these chilis to be whole, some minced, some pounded, some sliced. Dried Thai chilis, whole and crushed, are also used in a variety of dishes including larb and jaew to bring a richer, smokier spice to the plate.
For more information about the Thai chili pepper, see this article.
For information about how to work with Thai chili peppers, see this article.
For information about how to quell the burn of a Thai chili pepper, see this article.