Why it’s a good idea to eat spicy food when it’s hot outside


It got up to 109 degrees in the San Gabriel Valley over the weekend — probably not for the last time this summer. When it’s this hot, granted, you may not feel much like cooking. But we all have to eat, and although you may want to make a bowl of cold soup, spicy food is actually great to eat in hot weather.

Ever wonder why the spiciest foods tend to come from hot weather cultures? It’s not simply perverse: Spicy foods make you sweat, which actually cools you off more efficiently than that cone of liquid nitrogen-frozen ice cream.

Here are some recipes to try tonight:

The H-Bomb burger: Grilling outside during a heat wave isn’t as crazy as it might sound, particularly if you do it in the evening after it’s gotten cool (a relative term) again. This burger has jalapenos in the burger itself and in the bacon and the cheese that go on top of the thing. There’s also habaneros in the relish — eight of them. Lucky you.


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Nam prik pla: Thai food is some of the best spicy food around, so try this fish dip from Tui Sungkamee and Jazz Singsanong of Jitlada. (If cooking dinner is beyond you, just go to Night+Market or Jitlada itself.) You can make a big batch of this fish dip — notice the “handful” of Thai chiles, which should be as much as you can stand — and serve it with lots of cabbage and cucumbers.

And then there’s this recipe for habanero bean salad, which is not only seriously spicy — but a cool salad too. And yes, if you have some of that habanero salsa from Chichen Itza or Guisado’s lying around, feel free.


Total time: 2 hours | Serves 8 to 10

1 pound mixed small dried beans

1 small yellow onion, unpeeled

3 cloves garlic, unpeeled

2 pasilla chiles

2 habanero chiles

1 red bell pepper

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 small red onion, diced

1 cup fresh tangerine juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon oil

Salt, pepper

1. Place the beans, yellow onion and garlic in a large saucepan; add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender but still firm, 1 1/2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, place the chiles and pepper 6 inches beneath the broiler, turning once or twice, 15 minutes for the pasillas and red pepper and 8 minutes for habaneros. Peel and chop. Place in a bowl with the tomatoes and red onion.


3. Reduce the tangerine juice in a small saucepan over medium heat to 1/2 cup, 15 minutes. Let cool. Whisk in the vinegar, lime juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Drain the beans; discard the onion and garlic. Let the beans cool slightly, then add to the chile mixture and toss with the dressing while still warm.

Note: From Mayi Brady of The Times’ Test Kitchen.

Each serving:

98 calories; 209 mg. sodium; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 0 saturated fat; 17 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 3.70 grams

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