Habenero chiles

Habenero chiles pack a lot of heat for their small size.

If a recipe calls for one jalapeño pepper, my dad will add four. If it calls for habenero, you’d better stay out of the kitchen, unless you enjoy feeling like your eyeballs are on fire.

With absolutely no explanation as to why my dad enjoys fiery-hot food, I’ve learned over the years not to eat his homemade salsa unless a gallon of milk is nearby.

Accepting his affinity for hot peppers on just about anything, I now enjoy finding new recipes to blow out what’s left of his taste buds.

As I head north today to celebrate Father’s Day with him, I’ll reveal my latest find — a cookbook of salsa recipes, which he’ll no doubt try, then modify to make hotter.

My mom says his love of fiery food comes from his poor sense of smell. What burns our nostrils, has no effect on his.

While no doctor’s ever officially linked that as a cause in my dad’s case, I’ve watched enough cooking shows to know that world-class chefs often have a keen sense of smell, which gives weight to her argument.

No matter the cause, I know he’ll enjoy tasting the new salsa recipes, and I’ll get a good kick out of watching him take bite after bite without even stopping for a drink.

If you want a taste of what my dad likes, without as much heat, try my super hot salsa recipe below.

It’s about all the heat I can handle, though dad leaves the habenero seeds in and adds two or three.

Super hot salsa

  • 6 large tomatoes, seeds removed
  • ½ an onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • ½ habanero chile, fresh, seeded
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup small sweet peppers (or substitute red bell pepper) seeded and diced
  • Juice from one lime
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnish — lime wedge and sprig of cilantro


  1. In a food processor, add in the flesh from the tomatoes, the onion chunks, garlic, cilantro, peppers, lime juice and salt.
  2. Process until everything is well combined. Do not process until smooth.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of cilantro.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips.

Contact M. Clare Haefner at chaefner@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7551.

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