Posted by: Gregg | March 25, 2008

Cooking tips.

I’m not a foodie by any means, but I don’t mind experimenting and I’m fairly good at following directions, so if I find an interesting recipe I have no problem in giving it a go. However, I still have to consider myself an amateur, as the following story might indicate.

Sunday evening I’m working on a chicken slow-cooker recipe out of an America’s Test Kitchen cookbook (love their stuff). My wife’s in the other room playing with the kiddo and I’m preparing the meal. It’s a spicy one with curry and jalapeño peppers, neither of which I’d ever cooked with before. I add the curry powder and then stem, seed, and mince the peppers. Immediately afterward, I notice that my lips are tingling. I know I’m cooking with some hot stuff, so I proceed to rinse my hands under the faucet and rub my face, hoping to get the spices off.

You’ll notice that at no point did I use any soap – I thought water would do the trick. No such luck; now my entire face feels like I dunked it in a volcano, and I realize that the oil or juice from the jalapeños that was on my hands is now spread all over my face, nose, and eyes. I furiously scrub my face with soap, so much so that my eyes started burning from the soap as well as the jalapeño juice. At this point I’m a complete burning, weeping mess, and I had to dash upstairs and jump in the shower and forcibly hold my hands at my sides to keep from clawing my face off.

I seriously doubt Julia Child ever had to deal with this sort of thing.

In case you were wondering, the chicken dish turned out great.


  1. You’ll learn. 😛

    Also, those non-powdered non-latex gloves work very well if you plan to handle hot peppers. I wouldn’t prep a habanero or even a serrano without them – I love spicy food but I can’t touch hot peppers without my fingers itching and reddening. Just make sure you don’t accidentally poke a hole in them.

  2. *chuckle* In case you ever wanted to make people suffer, I can offer one tip with two potent ingredients.

    Use either chicken grease or anchovy juice. Put some on your forefinger and wipe it on someone’s upper lip. The pores are very big in that area and it’s hard to wash off, no matter what you do. They’ll end up smelling it all day.

    How do I know such things? By having a playful dad, both in the kitchen and at work when he was managing a pizza place (hence, the anchovies).

  3. Gregg, funny story! Nnot so funny, I’m sure, while you were in agony from the pepper juice burn! Incidentally, this is a common enough occurrence that there is practically a cottage industry of folk remedies purporting to “cure” the pepper-burn problem. Don’t believe any of it. I researched this question for a library reference patron a few years back, and found that milk, bleach, antacid, lemon juice, and all the other “sure cures” are ineffective. You gotta get the capsaicin off your skin. Period. The best way to do that is plenty of soap and running water, or some oil-based cream or ointment followed by a thorough wiping. You did exactly the right thing by getting under the shower (but I hope you protected yer tender bits from the runoff containing the capsaicin). A cooking tip in addition — DON’T use the seeds. They’re too hot. Throw them away. The pepper flesh is adequate to add fire to any recipe. Unless you are a masochist.

  4. BAH! Lightweight. I’m pretty sure I could bath in pureed jalapeños without much ado, however… I did have a similar situation that arose from chopping a ton of Habaneros for chili – but just on my hands. I knew better than to touch anything before I thoroughly washed with soap. (and I do always include the seeds, unlike a previous poster who recommends tossing them out!)

    Just be glad you didn’t make a quick trip to the bathroom!

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