HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Favorite type of heat?

Talking heat, as in spicy heat.

I could be wrong, but I think there are 3 very broad categories of heat when it comes to food.

1. Chile (or chili) pepper heat, where you get a hot burning sensation.

2. Sichuan peppercorn heat, where the sensation is a numbing feeling.

3. Horseradish or wasabi heat, where the the magic is felt along the nasal passages and can be best described as "throat clearing"

I personally like all three, but if I had to choose, it might be the peppercorn heat that I'd most miss if it was taken away from me.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Really good New Mexico chiles give a glow of rich chile flavor and a good nose blowing heat.
    I used to have to grate the familie's horeseradish (xren in Russian.) I'd sit in the breeseway w/ my snorkling mask on and grate like Hell.

    1. Where do you class black pepper, mustard, and ginger?

      2 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          While I think black pepper brings on more of the heat of #1, mustard and ginger are more #3 - pungent rather than spicy.

        2. I really like the combination of chile and Sichuan peppercorn. As an aside, when ordering a Sichuan dish that is usually stir-fried, the dish usually comes loaded with sliced dried chiles - way out of proportion to the other ingredients IMHO. I sure can't eat but a fraction of these chiles, but do folks in Sichuan actually eat most or all of those chiles?

          2 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka


            Makes the rice go down so much easier.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              This may be true for them, but I'd be seriously worried about how things would feel coming out... :)

          2. Man That is like picking which kid is your favorite! Can't be done.

            1. It's gotta be chickens
              or perhaps those strong beefers
              which blend to the baliance
              of coursely chopped heart.

              Lovely meat it is.

              Dances to couer.
              even chopped.

              1. Sichuan peppercorn > wasabi > chile, for me, although I like all three. I find the numbing of Sichuan peppercorns rather pleasant (I was one of those kids who licked 9 volt batteries, just to see what it felt like). And since I have a deviated septum, wasabi makes me feel like I'm breathing easier. But while I enjoy chiles, used judiciously, too much is really too much. I don't like feeling as if the inside of my mouth is blistering.

                1. I like the "multi-layer" heat of chili's. Using several to allow just a tiny bit of burning in the mouth- but the slow, long, subtle heat from the throat to the tummy. I call it "personal furnace".

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sedimental

                    I love it when a dish doesn't necessarily burn in the mouth, but the aftertaste is very warm. I wonder how they do that?

                    1. re: GraydonCarter

                      Well, I do it by layering chili's. I use a little jalapeño (mouth burn), red Thai (downward esophageal burn) or banana pepper- and Ancho chili or fresh poblano for the "afterburn" when combined with the others. The idea is to not shut the tastebuds down at first bite. The mouth should be "tingly", not stung like a bee. Then the slow warmth begins in the chest and travels to the tummy without discomfort. Making you feel really warm without providing a sweat on the forehead (that means too much jalapeño or habanero was used).

                  2. Felt I had to post to this one, but it's really a tough call.
                    Best I can do is say that (if forced) I'd give up Horseradish/Wasabi heat first.