Habanero Pepper Poppers with Sweet Chili Mayonnaise

Habanero Popper

Innovation is generally a great thing. Bridging the gap between creativity and necessity is a hallmark of the evolution of our species. I am all about expanding humans conceptual horizon. That being said, sometimes when something isn't broken, don't fix it. This recipe is the result of my friend and I brainstorming the type of food we would want to eat while drinking a beer on the front porch. Jalapeño poppers came up early in the conversation, then we thought it would be fun to kick up the heat a little bit and try a spicier variety of chili. Habaneros were an obvious choice due to their unique flavor and ease of accessibility, most major super markets carry fresh habaneros so this was an easy substitution for the common jalapeño popper.

Habanero peppers are one of many different chili varieties found throughout the world, this includes Hungarian paprika chilies, Thai or Indian bird eye chilies, and Peruvian aji chilies. Chilies are different from the old world varieties of spices known as pepper, such as the black peppercorn and Szechuan pepper. Peppercorns are actually dried berries, while chili peppers are a new world fruit from the nightshade family. The nightshade family also includes plants like tomatoes and eggplants(McGee 329), as a side note one should never consume any flower from the nightshade family, even though their fruits are adored all over the world..

The chili pepper has an amazing story of international distribution and acceptance in the age of European imperialism and international trade. However, mankind was not responsible for chilies originally being spread throughout the New world, chilies are biologically designed to be eaten by birds. The birds gobble up the chili fruit whole without damaging the chili seed. When the seed is damaged the chemical compound capsaicin is released, this is what gives chilies its distinct burning sensation. After consumption birds would later distribute the chili seeds through their droppings during migration.

The old world has been enjoying the spread of chilies since the mid-15th century(Wallin), Portuguese sailors brought chilies from Bahia and Pernambuco in Brazil across the Atlantic, then later Africa and India via Indian Ocean trading routes. Around the same time the Spanish took the chili pepper from the port cities of Acapulco, Mexico and Lima, Peru across the Pacific ocean to Manila in the Philippines and then to other parts of Asia(Bloch-Dano, 91-92).

Habaneros are known to be able to be exceptionally hot variety of chili. Both the genetic makeup and growing conditions determine the heat of any particular chili(McGee, 419). Like their chili brethren, habanero's ancient lineage originated in South America, the species made its way north and eventually developed in the Caribbean. 

The chili is widely used and cultivated in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, in fact it is one of the only chilies grown in the Yucatan without a Mayan name(Whole Chili Pepper Magazine). The name Habanero is a Spanish reference of the chili being from Havana, Cuba. These chilies are also known as Scotch Bonnet is Jamaica and the Bahamian Pepper throughout the Bahamas.

The habanero will bring an intense heat to this dish, so a fatty sauce was necessary to balance out the dish. The sweet chili mayonnaise in this recipe can be used as a dip or spread for anything. I find its usage is great with fried foods, sandwich spreads, or thinned with vinegar to make a creamy salad dressing. I would suggest starting out with a high quality mayonnaise, if you live in the Southern US or on the East Coast check out Duke's Mayonnaise, For vegans check out Just Mayo, or simply make the mayonnaise yourself.

Habanero Pepper Poppers with Sweet Chili Mayonnaise

Habanero Pepper Poppers with Scallion Chili Mayonnaise

Habanero Pepper Poppers

  • 8 Habanero chilies
  • 2 Large eggs, beaten
  • Enough All-purpose flour to coat
  • Enough Panko to coat
  • Enough Cream cheese to stuff
Cooking Directions
  1. Using gloved hands, remove the stem of the chili with a knife, then cut in half. Remove the innards including the seeds.
  2. Stuff the inside with cream cheese, then place the two halves of the chili back together.
  3. Roll stuffed chili in all purpose flour.
  4. Dip the dredged chilies in a separate bowl containing the beaten eggs.
  5. Roll the chilies that have now gone through the beaten eggs in panko, gently set aside.
  6. Lightly drop the stuffed chilies in a high heat oil at 375F.
  7. Cook for about 3-6 minutes, remove when golden brown.
  8. Pat dry with a paper towel to remove excess oil, sprinkle salt and pepper over.

Sweet Chili Mayonnaise

  • 1/2 c High quality mayonnaise
  • 2 T Sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Scallion
Cooking Directions
  1. Slice scallion as thin as possible.
  2. Mix all ingredients together and place in a serving ramekin.
Total Time: 15 min
  • Bloch-Dano, Evelyne. Vegetables: A Biography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. 91-92. Print.
  • McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking. New York: Scriner, 2004. 329, 419. Print
  • "Profile of the Habanero Pepper". Whole Chile Pepper Magazine. July 1989. Retrieved 2013-04-14
  • Wallin, Nils-Bertil. "Chili: Small Fruit Sets Global Palettes on Fire." Yale Global Online. YaleGlobal, n.d. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. <http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/about/chili.jsp>.
Photo's by Jordan Henline


Post a Comment