Hot Chili Peppers with capsaicin signaling HOT!

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peppers1Hot Chili Peppers… gave their intensity when ingested with capsaicin and several related chemicals. When consumed capsaicin bind with pain receptors in the mouth and throat responsible for sensing heat. Once activated by capsaicin, the receptors send a message to the brain that person has consumed something very very hot. The brain responds to the burning sensation by raising the heart rate, increasing perspiration and releasing endorphins. Dried chili peppers are often ground into powders. Dried whole chiles may be reconstituted before grinding to a paste used to flavor soups and stews with bean paste. The leaves of the chili plant, mildly bitter and nowhere near as hot as the fruit, are often pickled with kimchi. Local markets are never without peppers, stocked well in various sizes, in fresh and dried form. Hot sauces and stews found in many foods are made with gochujang paste.

The Tradition of Gochujang Pepper Taste

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gochujang1Gochujang… is a hot pepper paste made form red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. It was believed to have been first used in Korea in late 18th century after chili was introduced from Japan in the 16th century. It was originally made by adding powdered red chili peppers and rice powder to soybean paste, then aging this paste under the sun in a clay pot or earthen jars. A small amount of sweetener such as sugar, syrup or honey is also sometimes added for a rich pungent flavor. The hot pepper paste is used to flavor stews, marinate meat, and as a condiment. Gochujang is one of the three indispensable condiments in a Korean home along with soy sauce and soybean paste. It makes dishes spicier but also somewhat sweeter.