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Demon Chile Peppers
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Demon chiles are small and slender, averaging one centimeter in diameter and 2-7 centimeters in length. They grow upright in clusters and have a thin outer skin that matures from green to bright red. The flesh is succulent, red, and filled with many white, edible, and hot seeds. Demon chiles have an immediate sharp pungency with fruity, tangy notes and very little bitterness.
Demon chiles are available year-round, with a peak season in the late summer through early fall.
Demon chiles, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are a variety of red Thai chiles that are very hot, listed at 30,000 to 50,000 units on the Scoville Heat Scale. Also known as Bird’s Eye Demon chiles, Demon chiles grow on a dwarf plant that was originally bred for growing in small spaces such as patios and containers. Demon chile plants are prolific growers that can produce as many as one hundred chiles in one growing season. Demon chiles can be used in its green, immature state and red, mature state, and are grown for both culinary and ornamental use.
Demon chiles contain vitamin A, vitamin C, and capsaicin, which is the compound responsible for the heat sensation in chiles.
Demon chiles can be used in both raw and cooked applications such as stir-frying, roasting, and sautéing. They are most popularly used whole or chopped in Asian dishes such as Thai curries and chile stir-fries and are also used to add heat to pasta dishes. Demon chiles can also be used raw in papaya and mango salads or can be minced and put into chile sauces and dips. It is important to note that Demon chiles are hot and just one or two pods in a dish will provide strong heat. Demon chiles can also be dried and preserved for later use. Demon chiles pair well with citruses such as yuzu and lemon juice, aromatics such as garlic, onion, and ginger, and curry leaves. Demon chiles will keep for up to two weeks when stored whole in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Demon chiles were awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Award of Garden Merit in 2006 in Britain. The RHS assesses the plant’s use, availability, growth habits, and resistance to disease. There are over 75,000 plants in the RHS’s database, and this award indicates that the plant is highly recommended for home gardens.
The exact origin of Demon chiles is unknown, but their parent plant, the red Thai chile, is believed to have originated in Mexico and were spread to Thailand via Portuguese explorers in the 16th century. Today Demon chiles can be found on online seed catalogs and in specialty markets in the United Kingdom, Africa, the United States, and in Southeast Asia.