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Aug 9, 2009 05:11 AM

Taming Habaneros in Linguine fra Diavolo?

So I'm working on my own variety of a Linguine fra Diavolo which is linguine with a spicy tomato sauce. I use shrimp, bay scallops, and bits of diced italian sausage. I would love to get a bit of habanero flavor to go alongside my serrano and jalapeno pepper flavors but I don't want all of that heat for the sake of dinner guests. Is there a good way to get habanero flavor without too much habanero fire?

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  1. remove the innner membrane and seeds

    2 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      YES. Not only do you need to remove the seed pod and ribs, but the membrane should also be removed. Not an easy task as the peppers are pretty thin to begin with. I remove the membrane from bell peppers as a rule and you need a very sharp knife to just skim under the surface. Bell are easy due to nice flat planks that you are working with. Habaneros are convoluted and getting at this membrane cleanly without destroying the pepper is challenging but if you do this you can really enjoy the fuitiness of this pepper.

      Another way to use them in a sauce is just to drop them in whole and remove before serving.

      1. re: scubadoo97

        Hot tip: wear gloves when working with them. Trust me.

    2. Try roasting them first. That will mellow them a little more.

      Also, acid balances out spiciness. So use lemon juice or a little vinegar if it gets too spicy. Distilled vinegar will balance the chemistry without altering the flavor as much as other acids. But you may like the addition of lemon or a tasty white balsamic in a dish like this.

      1. Slice in half and deseed it. Then treat it like a bay leaf. Plop it in your sauce while cooking and then fish out the pepper before serving. You'll get the flavor and some of the heat without it being as overwhelming as if you kept the pepper in it.

        If that doesn't give enough flavor, you'll have to thoroughly remove the seeds and membrane. Almost shave off the inner layer of the pepper. That will get it as mild as possible. Then dice as small as you can.

        1. Habanero's seem like way to much heat for shrimp and scallops (although, now that I think about it, I love "Camarones a la diabla") . I believe pepper variety "Aji dulce" gives hab flavor/aroma without the heat.

          "Ají dulce (from South American Spanish ají, "chile" + Spanish dulce, "sweet") is any of a variety of sweet perennial peppers found in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is most widely known in Venezuela where it refers to a specific native variety of Capsicum chinense related to the habanero, but with a much milder, smoky flavour....."

          1 Reply
          1. re: Shrinkrap

            I agree. You've already got jalapenos & serranos in there. What do you want to do, give your guests an ulcer or permanent acid reflux disease?? Although many people love hot & spicy foods, not everyone has the palate to taste the other flavors in the dish, when overpowered with extreme heat. And your wasting some good seafood on them b/c all they will taste is the hot pepper. I say nix them.

          2. Everybody has different comfort levels for chili heat. Make a small cup of cleaned, pureed habaneros with a splash of white vinegar, and let everyone dial up their own add-on flavor, same as a salt shaker, especially if serranos and jalapenos are allready at work. I would not cook scallops with habaneros.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Veggo

              Good idea, Veg. Some of our friends are a little wimpie. I'll be doing this.

              1. re: Veggo

                I do that sort of thing all the time. I'm a chilihead myself and when I was young and foolish used to crank every dish up to my level, even for company. Over time I've learned to tone things down to a crowd-pleasing level and offer extra heat on the side for those who can appreciate it. (With one exception: I never compromise on my infamous "Bob's Serious Chili." Even people who don't normally eat really hot food have been known to willingly suffer for the sake of a bowlful.)