A Complete Guide To Bird’s Eye Chili Peppers

What Is A Bird’s Eye Chili?

The Bird’s Eye Chili is a member of the Capsicum annuum family. It is incredibly small, which can be quite deceptive considering that it is one of the hottest chilis to eat.

It can be eaten both raw and cooked, and both fresh and dried. It is mostly used as a small addition to larger dishes, such as curries and pasta dishes. However, it is also common to find it in salads and fish dishes.

A Complete Guide To Bird’s Eye Chili Peppers

Where Did It Come From?

It is said that the Birdy’s Eye chili comes from Southeast Asian countries – mainly Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines. It got its name from the interesting way that the chili was spread around the world.

Supposedly, the Bird’s Eye chili used to be eaten by birds, who would then excrete the seeds in different places.

These seeds would then be spread from country to country! The birds enjoyed eating Bird’s Eye chilis because they don’t have the ability to feel the pain of the chili chemical (Capsaicin); they just enjoyed the sweet flavor that they were able to taste.

Scoville Heat Units

These chilis are some of the hottest chilis you will find that are used in everyday cooking.

Their Scoville rating is between 50,000 and 100,000 SHU. To put that into perspective, the average SHU of jalapeno chilis is 5,000 SHU. This means that some of the Bird’s Eye chilis are over 20 times hotter than this!

What Does It Look Like?

When you come to buy Bird’s Eye chilis, they will be red or green. This is how you know that they are at their ripest/maturest stage. However, there will occasionally be purple, black, or yellow Bird’s Eye chilis available too.

They are small, thin, and pointy (between 2-4cm), and will often be mistaken for Piri Piri chilis. This is because the Piri Piri chili is also known as the ‘African Bird’s Eye’ chili!

It is also often confused with the ‘siling labuyo’ (The Filipino Bird’s Eye), a Capsicum frutescens that has a similar appearance to a Bird’s Eye.

The main difference between the two peppers is the Filipino Bird’s Eye points upwards instead of downwards when it is growing (the opposite to a Bird’s Eye chili).

How Do You Cook With A Bird’s Eye Chili?

You will often find Bird’s Eye chilis dried when you come to buy them in shops. They are also commonly ground down into a powder and can be found all year round.

Commonly known as the Thai chili, they are most often served in Thai and Southeast Asian dishes, and they go particularly well with fish! You should be careful with this type of chili, however, because they pack a lot of heat.

A little goes a long way, so if you want to put one in a dish, you might want to consider either de-seeding it first or only using half a chili at a time.

To actually cook this chili, you should remove the stem first. Once you have touched the chili, avoid touching your eyes or other sensitive areas, as the chemical that makes this chili so hot (Capsaicin) can stay on your skin for several hours.

Once you have removed the stem, the rest of the cooking is up to you! They can be left whole if you choose, or they can be chopped or pureed to be mixed in with dishes.

How Do You Store A Bird’s Eye Chili?

If you have bought fresh Bird’s Eyes, they should be kept in your fridge for a maximum of two weeks.

However, you shouldn’t wash them unless you are just about to use them, as the moisture will encourage them to grow mold very quickly (even in the fridge).

Dried and canned chilis should be kept at room temperature, and they can be used for up to a year.

Interesting Fact About The Bird’s Eye Chili

Bird’s Eye chilis have a surprising amount of health benefits. They can help to control stomach pain, pain from arthritis, and toothaches. In India, it is also used to help prevent infections because of its antibacterial properties.

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