Thai Chile: Ain’t No Jalapeño

Oh, just look at them, these little chiles, tiny that they are, in red and green – the cheerful colors of Christmas!


I got to know the Thai chile last year when I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I traveled to go to cooking class. I was given five of them to make a bowl of Tom Yam Goong (Hot and Sour Prawn soup), and, in typical Texan style, I chopped all of them up – seeds included – and threw them into the wok.

Ha! I thought. I can out-chile all of you!

I spent the next two days drinking Cokes and eating club sandwiches in my hotel room with the shades drawn.

Lesson learned. I now have the utmost respect for the little Thai chile, which, I now know has 20 times the heat of my favorite pepper, the jalapeño, which is not available in Paris.


So now I’ve made friends with the mean little Thai chile, which I now use for my salsas and all things Tex-Mex.

I do not use the seeds, however. I carefully scrape out the membrane, too. There’s plenty of heat in the flesh, thin that it is.

It ain’t no jalapeño, and I’m not gonna be putting these on my pizza, but the Thai chile fire heats up my Tex-Mex just like a chile should. Plus they’re great when I’m making Thai food, too.