A fruity flavor with insane slow-burn heat…
Naga Viper fast facts:
- Scoville heat units (SHU): 900,000 – 1,382,118 SHU
- Median heat: 1,141,059 SHU
- Origin: United Kingdom
- Capsicum species: Chinense
- Jalapeño reference scale: 113 to 553 times hotter
- Use: Culinary
- Size: Approximately 2 to 3 inches long, elongated, wrinkly
- Flavor: Sweet, Fruity, Tangy
What do you get when you cross three super-hots? The Naga Viper. It sounds like a crazy pepper joke, but this extreme chili – a wicked offspring of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, Naga Morich, and ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia) – sits among the hottest of the hottest. It’s a slow burn that allows the pepper’s fruity sweetness to tantalize your tastebuds before the all hell breaks loose. In 2011, the Naga Viper had a stint as the official hottest pepper in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records before being beaten out by one of its parents – the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion itself – in 2012.
How hot is the Naga Viper?
This is one intense chili with quite the pedigree. In fact the heat and looks take on varying aspects of all three of its ancestors. The Naga Viper has the heat of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and the Naga Morich with the slower burn of the ghost pepper. It ranges from 900,000 Scoville heat units to nearly 1.4 million SHU, making it 113 to 553 times hotter than our jalapeño pepper reference point. Or compare it to the popular extra-hot habanero – the Naga Viper is 3 to 14 times hotter than even this very hot pepper.
The slower burn to the Naga Viper will fool you on the heat front, but only for a few minutes. When it begins to grow, the spiciness bubbles up and over like a cauldron. One thing to note – the Naga Viper is a hybrid chili and not quite stable, so variations in heat, look, and flavor can occur.
What does the Naga Viper look like and taste like?
It looks a lot like a mix of its parents. It has a Naga Morich/ghost pepper-like body (elongated and wrinkly) with the potential for a scorpion-like tail that’s a little longer than what you’d typically see on a scorpion pepper. Simply, it looks like pain. There is no mistaking that extreme heat sits within the walls of the Naga Viper.
The flavor is also much like you’d expect from its heritage – sweet and fruity, with a little tang. The slower burn allows you to taste the flavor of the Naga Viper more than with some other super-hots. There’s a stronger perfume to this pepper, too. A sweet tang that’s very enticing.
How can you use this super-hot chili?
Given the extreme heat, a little goes a long way with a Naga Viper. With its slower burn, it’s a very good choice for extreme hot sauces and rubs. The flavor of the Viper can actually add nuance to the sauce before the heat hammer hits. You can also dry these chilies to use the super-hot chili powder to spice any number of dishes. Just a tiny pinch goes far.
A note of caution: Be prepared with this chili pepper and other super-hots. If handling the Naga Viper by hand, wear protective kitchen gloves and eye goggles. The oils on the pepper alone can cause chili burn like you’ve never felt before, so know how to combat chili burn before you even consider handling a Viper chili.
Where can you buy the Naga Viper?
As with most super-hots, looking online for seeds and products is often your best bet (Amazon). Check out, too, The Chili Pepper Company – they developed the Naga Viper and offer what’s most likely the most stable option. You can also look to a local chili farm for this or other super-hot peppers.
Photo by Tyrone Adams, CC 2.0