What is the spiciest food you can cook with? From chilli to wasabi

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The spiciest food you can cook with is no joke.

Hot ingredients like chilli and wasabi are enough to make you break out in a sweat and leave you gasping for water.

But if you're a fan of the heat, check our guide to the spiciest food you can cook with...

spiciest food chilli (Credit: Pexels) Take care when cooking with spicy food (Credit: Pexels)

What is the spiciest food you can cook with?

From the curries of Asia to the wat's of East Africa, people have been turning up the heat in the kitchen for centuries.

As our understanding of biology has advanced, something of an arms race has developed among top chilli breeders.

Each new year brings intense competition and the eternal battle to produce the next ludicrously hot pepper shows little sign of abating.

But there are more ingredients with the power to pump up the heat than chillies.

Other naturally occurring spices offer a similarly potent, if not necessarily nuclear effect on the palate.

We've taken a closer look at some of the spiciest food you can cook with.

Check out our recipe for a Giant Spicy Pepperoni Pizza Roll:

1. Chilli

You can’t have a conversation about heat without talking about chilli.

They range from the mild jalapeno to the infernal ghost pepper.

Chillies derive their heat from the chemical capsaicin, which creates a burning effect, affecting the mouth, eyes and skin when consumed.

The potency of chilli peppers is measured on the Scoville scale, which ranges from 0 to 16,000,000 (the strength of pure capsaicin).

Read More: What is the spiciest food around the world?

Currently, the hottest chilli in the world is the “Dragon’s Breath”.

It weighs in at an astonishing 2,480,000 units - 480,000 more than military grade pepper spray.

Since no human has actually eaten this chilli yet, it doesn’t necessarily count as an ingredient.

However, with terrifying prospects like the ghost chilli (1,000,000 SHU) used regularly in novelty dishes, chillies are the kings of heat.

chilli spiciest food (Credit: Pexels) You can’t have a conversation about heat without talking about chilli (Credit: Pexels)

2. Wasabi

Despite the world’s obsession over hot chillies, they do not have total ownership of the spice market.

There are other, perhaps less lethal, but in their own way piquant ingredients.

One such example is Japanese favourite wasabi.

Japanese cooks have been adding the plant to dishes for centuries to add extra heat.

Wasabi does not contain any capsaicin, and instead derives its heat from the volatile chemical allyl isothiocyanate (AITC).

This chemical causes a different effect than chilli peppers. Instead, it irritates the nasal passageways and throat with a floral pungency.

It's produced by plants as a defence mechanism to repel herbivorous animals, highlighting how potent the heat can be.

wasabit (Credit: Pexels) Wasabi root is a seriously spicy food (Credit: Pexels)

3. Horseradish

Though Asia and Central America traditionally dominate discussion about spicy food, Europe is not without its own hot ingredients.

A traditional exemplar is the aforementioned horseradish.

Closely related to wasabi, horseradish is a small, nondescript plant, sporting small white flowers and typically growing to around 1.5 metres in height.

It is prized in cooking for its root, which when grated releases large concentrations of AITC.

Preserved in vinegar, horseradish is typically served as a sauce.

Though these sauces can be extremely strong, the volatility of AITC means that they lack the power of fresh horseradish.

A staple condiment in central European cooking, horseradish is a great way to add a tempered heat to a meal.

4. Mustard

Many people will be familiar with this condiment as a yellow, vinegary ooze to be slathered with abandon on hot dogs and burgers.

But mustard can be something far more hostile.

Prepared in a variety of ways around the world, the sauce is derived from the seeds of the mustard plant.

The hottest example is English mustard, which has a thicker consistency than American counterparts and a strong, acidic tang and heat.

Mustard is perhaps most infamously associated with the chemical weapon mustard gas, frequently used during the First World War.

Named for its yellow hue and similar smell, the weapon is not actually derived from mustard itself.

However, that anyone made such an association shows how potent true mustard can be.

spiciest food mustard (Credit: Pexels) Different flavours of mustard can be seriously spicy (Credit: Pexels)

Spiciest food you can cook with - the verdict

Careful breeding and natural variation has meant that chillies still rule the roost when it comes to heat.

READ MORE: These are the spiciest versions of your favourite foods

However, there are clearly alternatives available for those who want to experience a different type of heat.

Take note.

But remember, spicy food is no joke.