PILE ON THE HEAT
Adding a bit of spice is a cheap way to amp up a dish, increasing satisfaction and invigorating digestive enzymes. International Hot and Spicy Food Day on Jan. 16 is the perfect excuse to infuse everyday meals with a fiery kick. Spices of all kinds make an appearance in these 15 recipes, from drinks and desserts to condiments, marinades, and stir-fry. Keep a glass of water at the ready.
The simple combination of hot sauce and mayonnaise yields a condiment worthy of many foods. The blog Just One Cookbook suggests a Japanese-style mayo and sriracha hot chili sauce, although any variants of these two ingredients will do. Control the heat by adjusting the type and amount of hot sauce, or combine different hot sauces to create a custom blend.
Throw together a hearty and hot meal in less than 30 minutes with a quick and easy recipe from the food blog Baker by Nature. The hot chili sauce in the broth provides a fiery punch in every bite and slurp. Using cheap packaged ramen noodles makes this dish super affordable and almost instantaneous. Other noodles, such as non-instant ramen noodles, soba noodles, or even spaghetti, are acceptable in a pinch but must be boiled separately.
SPICY CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM
Chilis and chocolate share a long and loving history, both originating in Latin America and combining into something sublime. Spicy chocolate ice cream is a perfect example. The blogger behind Barefeet in the Kitchen has adapted a recipe from "The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments." The heat of chili powder brings out the rich flavor and sweetness of the underlying chocolate in a swirl of cool, creamy richness.
Adding a bit of heat to agave-based drinks is a natural fit that makes a cocktail even more invigorating. To make a spicy margarita, muddle a few slices of jalapeño or other hot chili with 2 ounces of tequila in the bottom of a mixing glass, then add 1 ounce of fresh lime juice and one-half ounce of simple syrup or agave syrup, shake with ice, and strain. Muddling the chili with the tequila releases its potent spicy properties and infuses the drink with a gentle heat.
SPICY INFUSED VODKA
Bring vodka to the next level by fixing spicy shots or subtly hot cocktails. Slice one or two chilis in half (depending on your tolerance for heat) and add to a bottle of vodka. Let marinate at least 24 hours. Pour the vodka into a glass container first, so the chilies are easy to remove after they've given up all their spice and flavor. Halving them exposes the seeds and pith, where all the heat resides.
SPICY PAPAYA SALAD
This traditional Thai salad is fresh, very hot, and sure to awaken tired taste buds. A recipe from YouTube personality Maangchi requires a few special kitchen tools that are cheap and versatile, including a mortar and pestle and a vegetable shredder or mandoline. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the supermarket, although a trip to an Asian specialty store for palm sugar and fish sauce may be required.
SPICY BARBECUE SAUCE
There are so many types of barbecue sauce and even more opinions about which is the most authentic. Preference aside, any barbecue sauce lends itself to a bit of heat and spice. A recipe on the blog Add a Pinch focuses on tang and heat, with a mustard base and significant dose of hot sauce and cayenne. The preparation couldn't be easier, and the one-pot cleanup is as quick and easy as the recipe itself.
SPICY BROCCOLI STIR-FRY
Stir-fry is a cheap way to use up whatever is languishing in the refrigerator, chow down a serving or two of vegetables, and experiment with some spice. The salty, umami-driven flavor profile of most stir-fries combines chilis, garlic, and ginger for layers of heat and tons of flavor. A broccoli tofu stir-fry recipe from The Kitchn calls for two chilis, although the amount of heat is easily modified.
SPICY JALAPEÑO CORNBREAD
Cornbread is delicious in its traditional form and even better when infused with hot jalapeños and tangy cheddar cheese. A recipe from the blog FoodieCrush uses a skillet instead of a bread pan, which helps make the edges and bottom extra crisp. Heating the skillet in the oven before baking is the key to getting textural contrast between the crunchy outside and moist inside.
There are so many different types of chili powder to marry with popcorn that it would be easy to plan a month of savory snacking with a different variety every day. To make a batch of spicy popcorn, air pop the corn and add a favorite blend of salt and chili powders. Cayenne serves as an all-purpose base for additional flavorings, such as garlic powder, onion powder, curry, and chipotle powder. Keep the spicy seasoning mix ready to go, as it sticks best when each kernel is piping hot.
SPICY STEAK MARINADE
One of the best ways to infuse an inexpensive piece of meat with flavor is to marinate it. Steeping spicy pepper flakes and chili powder in a flavorful marinade brings out all their fiery goodness while transferring flavor to the meat. Basting the steak with a marinade concocted by Taste of Home replaces the natural juices that cook out as the meat grills.
SPICY CHICKEN WINGS
An all-time-favorite snack, spicy Buffalo wings should be the right combination of hot, crunchy, and velvety. Bon Appétit offers two tips for achieving optimal texture: Use cornstarch rather than flour to dredge the wings, and let them reach room temperature before deep frying. These two techniques ensure evenly cooked wings that are juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
SPICY CHIPOTLE SALSA
A simple three-ingredient salsa from the recipe and cooking blog Leite's Culinaria combines spicy canned chipotles in adobo with pan-roasted tangy tomatillos to create an all-purpose condiment. The recipe calls for pan roasting the garlic and tomatillos, although browning them under a broiler is fine -- be sure to cook thoroughly to get a slight caramelization that deepens the flavor. Boiling the ingredients also yields a tasty salsa, although without the richness provided by caramelization.
SPICY JERK CHICKEN
Caribbean food has a reputation for being spice laden and hot, as well as addictively delicious. Traditional jerk seasoning gets its heat primarily from the floral and very spicy Scotch bonnet pepper, which is similar to a habanero. The laundry list of other spices and herbs in a jerk chicken recipe from Immaculate Bites, such as thyme, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg, add layers of warmth. Remember to wear gloves and wash all utensils after handling the hot peppers.
SPICY RASPBERRY RHUBARB JALAPEÑO JAM
Adding a little heat to sweet treats is a trend that continues to grow. In a recipe from Chocolate Moosey, tangy raspberries and rhubarb meld with spicy and earthy jalapeño to make a condiment that works well on morning toast or as an accompaniment to cheese alongside a glass of wine. No special equipment or ingredients are needed, just the fruits, chilis, sugar, and lemon, plus a plate in the freezer to test for consistency.