Knowing about ingredients is important for any chef. Whether you are an amateur cook or working your way up to the heights of your profession, you need to know exactly what all your ingredients can do.
Having ingredients at your fingertips that can make your dish a truly edible and spicy one is what you need to ensure that whoever is eating your food will truly appreciate it.
However, if you aren’t certain about all the qualities of African Bird’s Eye as an ingredient then you need to find out exactly what it is and how it is best used. African Bird’s Eye can be a fantastic addition to any dish as long as you know what it is and how to use it.
Luckily this piece will explain everything you need to know about African Bird’s Eye and give you tips on how to ensure you use it to its full potential.
What Is African Bird’s Eye?
First of all, let’s explain exactly what African Bird’s Eye is. African Bird’s Eye is a very hot pepper and a member of the Capsicum frutescens family of peppers. The Capsicum frutescens family is known to contain some of the hottest peppers that are known to man.
The African Bird’s Eye chili is not, strangely enough, originally from Africa.
Alongside other members of the Capsicum frutescens family, it originates in Mexico and was only cultivated in other parts of the world after Spanish and Portuguese settlers arrived in the New World in the late 15th century.
The Spanish influence on Latin America is well known as is their influence on Mexico. What is perhaps not as well known is how, because of trade links, they helped influence other cultures’ food.
The Spanish Empire stretched across the world and Spanish and Portuguese traders not only worked in South America but also in other nations as well.
During Spanish expansion into Southeast Asia, it was found that the African Bird’s Eye chili pepper could grow exceptionally well there, meaning the Spanish began to grow it in that part of the world as well as in Mexico.
It was soon discovered that the chili could also grow extremely well in Africa, and it is from the pepper’s emergence in Africa that it gained its more commonly used name – African Bird’s Eye – because the color of the chili reminded some people of an African Bird’s Eye!
In Africa the chili also gained another name – Peri-peri. The name Peri-peri derives from the people of Mozambique who spoke the Ronga language. It is believed that Peri-peri is the Rhonda equivalent word for pepper.
The importation of African Bird’s Eye into different nations has influenced the cuisine of those countries. For example, thanks to the Spanish and Portuguese bringing the plant into Asia it is widely used in Philippine cooking for sambals, in Vietnamese cooking for soups and salads and they are used extensively in Thai curries.
Thai cuisine is particularly fond of the African Bird’s Eye peppers because of the strong heat that is generated by it. In fact, in some Thai dishes, the African Bird Eye is included raw as a side dish. This of course isn’t to everyone’s tastes!
The Best Ways To Use The African Bird’s Eye Pepper
Now that we have covered the origin of the African Bird’s Eye chili pepper, let’s examine how best to use it in cooking.
As mentioned above, a great many Southeast Asian cuisines have used African Bird’s Eye chili peppers in a variety of dishes. So, you might be wondering how best to use African Bird’s Eye peppers in your own cooking?\
The best way to use African Bird’s Eye peppers in your cooking is to use them as an addition to a soup or sauce that you think needs a bit more flavor to it. The African Bird’s Eye is especially strong amongst other similar peppers, so its strength is often its attraction to cooks.
The strength of the pepper ensures that you can fully taste it when you are eating and if mixed correctly with some other strong-tasting ingredients it can create a wonderfully rich taste in your mouth.
It should be noted that you don’t want to use too much of the African Bird’s Eye pepper because it can easily overwhelm your taste buds and obliterate any other flavors.
How Easy Is It To Grow African Bird’s Eye Peppers?
Now that we’ve explored the chili’s past and how to use it when you are cooking, let’s take a look at how easy it is to actually grow the plant.
African Bird’s Eye can be grown in particularly warm climates, such as Southeast Asia, Africa and South America because of the warmth of their climate. So, if you want to grow the plants in a colder climate then ensuring a consistent temperature is vitally important.
The plants grow best in a temperature of between twenty degrees and thirty degrees Celsius. It is also important to remember that the peppers need water as well to properly grow, however equally too much water can end up damaging the plant.
Therefore, around 1200 cm of rain/water is needed per year for the African Bird’s Eye chili peppers to properly grow.
If you are not in a country that has a good mixture of warm weather and rainfall, then it is best to grow your African Bird’s Eye chilis either in a greenhouse or a polytunnel.
Why You Should Try African Bird’s Eye In Your Next Dish
Although they are a hot chili, the African Bird’s Eye is one that can be easily handled by a good chef and not turn into an overwhelming taste.
The African Bird’s Eye can easily spice up any dish that you like and if used correctly can turn what might have been merely a good meal into an outstanding one.