Feel like a champ when you slurp down Tom Yum so coolly? According to a survey, eating hot peppers release “alpha male” hormones in the body. So if you think you’re man enough to chow down the spiciest food in Asia, go ahead and impress us.
#1 Vindaloo Pork Curry
Go here: India
Granted everything in India is spicy, so over there they refer to it as “hot” food. Vindaloo Pork was introduced by the Portuguese, who seemingly also had a taste for fiery curries. The pork is preserved in red wine, peppers and garlic, then drenched in a broth of spicy curry. Some authentic versions use the world’s hottest chilli pepper according to the Guinnes Book of Records, called Bhut Jolokia or “ghost pepper”.
#2 Spicy Taiwanese Sausage
Go here: Malaysia (yeah, we don’t get it either).
There’s the classic Shang Thang Taiwanese sausage that you find in Taiwan, and there’s Malaysia’s take on it, which really, will make you question everything you know about spicy food. The sausage is found at food courts and street stalls, and to order one you can chose your own level of spiciness. We’ve never met anyone that has managed to completely devour the spiciest level, but you’re welcome to try.
#3 Sichuan Hot Pot
Go here: China
You’re well accustomed to hot spots all over Asia by now, but you might not be too familiar with the Sichuan style just yet. The soup has a base of garlic, onion and Sichuan peppers with pieces of raw meat and vegetables thrown in. If you’re lucky enough to find a traditional hot pot recipe in Sichuan, you might get some extras like pig brain, cow’s throat and duck blood thrown in. Yummy?
#4 Neua Pad Prik
Go here: Thailand
Been there, had Pad Prik? You’ve probably had the regular mild version if this picture didn’t send shivers down your spine. It’s one of the hottest dishes you can find in Thailand, which includes stir fried beef, Thai herbs, shallots, basil, garlic and whole birds-eye chilli peppers. Not chopped or anything, just whole chillis in all their fiery majesty. If you can’t find this one on the menu, it sometimes takes the name Thai Pepper Steak, probably to fool people.
#5 Bibimbap with Kimchi Jgijae
Go here: South Korea
Trust us, this Kimchi is not the regular stuff you get in tubs at the grocery store. The popular mixed rice dish is served with a helping of fermented, pickled cabbage called Kim Chi Jgigae, with a strong taste of garlic, chillies, onion and lots or red hot chilli peppers. The Kim Chi is home-made, so thankfully you can order it at just the amount of tongue-scorching spice level you can handle.
#6 Sambal Oelek
Go here: Indonesia
When in Indonesia, have Sambal Oelek with everything! It’s made from a mince of habanero peppers, cayenne peppers, bird’s eye chillies and Spanish peppers. You can ask for a side of sambal almost everywhere you go but don’t get too adventurous — it may look like salsa but even lemon won’t help you now.
Enough talk, more action.
Photo credits: Main, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.