Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Quest for the Ghost[face] Peppa

*Guest post by Calypso.
Well, Angela has made it clear to me that if I want to keep creeping around food blogger happy hours on her coat-tails, I had to write something. I could blog about my own culinary experience, but most of my recipes have two ingredients, both of them leftovers, and a decent amount of hot sauce. That said, "Pepperoni pizza stuffed with kung pao chicken" was a great idea (for more information on the difference between "idea" and "actual dish", check out your local library!). My restaurant reviews would mostly be limited to American Pizza (around the corner from my house) and Tsim Yung (a few blocks away). So, instead I'm going to document my "training" for a very exciting dish, which I will be cooking, blogging, tweeting, and most likely regretting all within the next few weeks: Satan's Ashes curry (at the time of posting, that link had no photos because of bandwidth issues, hopefully you can pull up the google cache, as the images are priceless).

Satan's Ashes is touted as the world's hottest curry, largely due to the use of the "Bhut Jolokia" pepper (which is like saying ATM machine, as Jolokia means pepper....sorry to all our Assamese speakers). The Bhut Jolokia, often called the "ghost pepper," rates in at (a world record) million scoville units, which I believe is a measurement of how many kittens could be incapacitated with a single pepper. The same pepper is used in many spicy food challenges, usually to the dismay of Adam Richman. On the plus side, in India the Bhut Jolokia has recently been approved for use as an ingredient. Well, an ingredient in grenades used against insurgents. So, at worst, it's like eating a grenade. So tell Angela to stop worrying.

I ordered the curry spice packet a week ago, but supposedly they're out-of-stock for a few weeks, and they're shipping from Britain, so I have time to "train," which means revisiting the spiciest dishes I can get in DC. Last night was my first night out, and I went to long-time favorite: Spices in Cleveland Park, home of "suicide curry."

Spices' suicide curry, which alone bears the warning "Very spicy" right there next to its title in the menu, is a Thai-style curry. The chicken (or beef or pork, if you haven't been brainwashed by Chik Fil-A commercials) is simmered in coconut milk with "extra large amounts of spices, onions, and chili." The first time I ordered this dish, probably 7 years ago, I ordered it as is on the menu, and it was a good, pleasant spicy. Ever since, I've ordered it "extra extra spicy, as spicy as you can make it" and I've rarely been disappointed.

The curry itself is very tasty, though there's nothing especially new here. If you enjoy coconut milk curries, then you'll like the simple flavors (it really is just broth, chicken, and onion). As far as spice goes, you can see the red specks all over the place in the photo, which should already have you salivating. The chicken doesn't absorb much of the spice, but the curry is thick enough to use the chicken pieces to scoop up decent amounts. Of course, that means I'm using chopsticks to pick up chicken, curl it into a spoon shape, and then use my chopstick-chicken-spoon to eat spicy curry soup. Yeah, that hurt my head as well. There's enough sauce in the dish to completely drench the white rice and then another bowl of the stuff after, while still liberally saucing up each piece of chicken. All in all, the dish was a very tasty, though not especially imaginative, curry. This, to me, is comfort food, and I'll never complain about portion size here. As far as spiciness, I think I'm getting jaded, because I barely broke a sweat eating the whole thing, but it was hot enough to promote pauses between bites. So, in my completely arbitrary and probably use-once-and-dispose rating system:

Taste (from 1 to 10): 8 (Very yummy but not exactly palate-challenging)

Price (from Wimpy to Scrooge McDuck): Somewhere between Snorks and Thundercats. By the way, did you know that James Lipton composed the theme to Thundercats? Yeah, the Actor's Studio guy. Seriously, check imdb! Okay, fine, it was around $10 for the very generous entree and around $6 for the huge can of Sapporo. mmmmm....

Spiciness (from 1, a spicy chili con carne, to 10, which is the horror-that-shall-not-be-named-or-even-imagined-but-it-rhymes-with-"most leper"-and-it's-mentioned-at-the-top-of-this-post): About a 4, I barely broke a forehead sweat and never needed water/milk, but I did take the occasional pause between bites.


  1. The India Military is planning to use the Ghost Chili as a weapon:

  2. Sigh. Yes, I know. I'm so worried about him. I'm going to have my dad on speed dial (he's a doctor) during the event, as a precaution...

  3. Hey! I think I just heard about this crazy hot pepper on NPR:

    Call me weak, but I think I'll pass.

  4. Susanica, I'm also gonna pass. I love hot stuff, but I feel like he's going to do some serious damage to his stomach. As his best friend, I will be there for him in his time of need...videotaping his distress and possibly calling an ambulance as needed.

  5. As his MOTHER I think this is nuts. Angela, get me on your father's and your speed dial ASAP, please.

  6. Hi, Nancy! Don't worry, you better believe I will step in the second there's any real trouble. I'll keep you in the loop.