How Peppers Make You Happy and Great Ways To Serve Them

You may have decided to take culinary courses online because you know that a good dish can make a person’s day. Science now backs your intuitive knowledge, validating your career choice. According to the American Chemical Society, peppers contain capsaicinoids, chemicals that cause certain receptors to activate. These receptors generally react to scalding temperatures. The body fights this assault by releasing endorphins, or the happy chemical.

Capsaicinoids can be found in all peppers, though the amount varies. That’s why bell and habanero​ peppers are so different in their heat concentration. The measure of heat contained in different peppers was once described in terms of Scoville Unites (named for Wilbur Scoville​, who invented the scale). However, heat is now measured in American Spice Trade Association Pungency Units. The Scoville scale was thought to be too subjective because it was based on taste tests. The new measuring system was developed using a machine.

Use capsaicinoids to your advantage by serving up dishes filled with spice. Here are a few recipes to try:

Coconut noodles
Try an Asian-inspired dish that packs a punch. You’ll need rice noodles, unsweetened coconut milk, tomato paste, chili powder, chili paste, salt, scallions, bean sprouts and coconut shavings. Make the chili paste out of whatever pepper you choose – your selection will determine the spice level of the dish. For example, banana peppers are on the low end of the scale, jalapeno and serrano are in the middle, and habanero and ghost peppers are the most spicy.

Make your favorite chili recipe, but control the level of spice by picking your pepper and cutting it wisely. The seeds and the inner flesh (the light-colored area) of the pepper are the hottest part. If you want a kicking chili, leave most of the seeds and the white flesh. Or tone it down by removing the seeds and light part.

Scriracha and butter shrimp
Scriracha is one of those sauces that tastes good on everything, and the ACS attributes that fact to capsaicinoids. Mix melted butter with Scriracha sauce in a saute pan, then add garlic and shrimp. Finish the dish with lemon zest, basil and mint, and you’ll have a hot dish that’s too good to put down.

Pork tacos
Use spiced pulled pork as the filler for tacos. Coat your pork shoulder in salt, pepper, cumin and apricot jam, and place it on a piece of tin foil. Surround the meat with onions and your choice of peppers (jalapeno is a nice middle ground that’s spicy, but not searing). Wrap the package up, put it in a roasting pan and pop it in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours.

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