Some people just can't handle spicy foods, but others, the brave-palated few, just can't get enough of them. Spicy thrill seekers are constantly on the look out for the next delicious thrill. If you have a mouth of steel and love the slow-burn of a good spicy meal, here are five foods you absolutely must try:
You haven't had Chinese hot pot until you've had it in Chengdu where the boiling broth turns a rich glowing red from spicy peppers. The secret is Szechuan peppercorns- tiny balls of flavor that will literally make your mouth go numb. Alongside are plates of lamb, beef, tofu and vegetables like bok choy and lotus root: they go in raw and come out tender and spicy. Make sure you have a beer handy.
You may have heard of vindaloo, a spicy staple of Indian restaurants, but what about phall? Derived from Indian cuisine, phall is usually the spiciest dish available on the menu at British curry houses. The tomato based curry with ginger and large amounts of ground chili peppers is not for the faint of heart.
Have you ever tasted something so spicy it made you cry, pass out or vomit? These things happen daily at Shingildong Spicy Jjambbong in Seoul. The offender is a glowing noodle soup, made from the spiciest peppers of Korea, India, Thailand and China. Spicy food is incredibly popular in the Korean capital but even locals struggle to eat this soup. The good news is that if you finish the fire broth your soup is free!
This popular street food in South East Asia somehow manages to be crunchy and refreshing yet painfully spicy, depending on the mood of the cook. Made from shredded unripe papaya, the dish mixes all four taste elements: sour lime, savory fish sauce, sweet palm sugar and of course spicy Thai red chilies. If you finish this and your mouth isn't on fire, find another vendor.
Oddly enough, the spiciest dish in the world according to the Travel Channel comes not from Asia, but from the Midwest. They named the shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo's Steak House in Indianapolis the most brain-numbingly spicy meal they could find. The secret? 20 pounds of horseradish grated daily into the sauce.
What's the spiciest food you've tried? Leave a comment below.
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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