With forecasters saying September is the new August, chill out by turning up the temp on your tastebuds. Seriously. (A recent Penn State University study confirmed what street food eaters in Saigon and Mexico City have long known: fiery foods chemically trigger your internal air conditioner.)
Our kitchen changed forever when Susan Feniger’s Street Food (Clarkson Potter, 2012) landed on our counter. We were so taken by her renditions of dishes from food stalls around the world. Her best spice lesson: Table the Tex-Mex sauce for a while and head East. Experiment with spicy bean paste, splash on sriracha, and raid the Asian grocery stores in your city for imported chili peppers.
Churn & Burn
Spicy sauces need three components: Acid, such as rice vinegar, soy sauce or lime juice; heat, found in chilies; and sugar, for caramelization. Come up with a couple of combos you like, slather your proteins—chicken wings, baby back ribs, beef strips, shrimp—with sticky hot goodness and top with flavorful accents like cilantro, scallions or green papaya.
Strike a Match
Aromatic white wines—Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris—are perfect with spicy food. While these wines sometimes clash with more delicate dishes, they’re almost always right at home when pairing with intense heat.
Be sure to serve them cold, but you knew that.