Did you know there are 79 separate varieties of the Thai pepper that have appeared from three species in Thailand? There isn’t just a single “Thai pepper,” instead there is a wide variety of Thai peppers of different flavors, characteristics, and heat levels that typically range from 50,000 to 100,000 SHUs. We carry a few amazing Thai varieties such as the Thai Dragon F1 and Thai Super Hot F1, but what makes working in the hot pepper seed business so exciting is being able to source unique and rare hot pepper varieties that are hard to get your hands on!
Meet the Thai Blend peppers, the Prik Lueng and Prik Kaleang!
Back in January 2020, one of our teammates went on a trip to Thailand and experienced the art, culture, the food, and of course…all the PEPPERS. Thais are known for adding spicy peppers in everything they cook to bring the heat such as curries, powders, sauces, stir-fries, and noodles. Not only did our teammate have a memorable trip, but he also was on a mission to source special Thai peppers.
His mission succeeded as he successfully sourced some of the most popular Thai peppers at local street markets in Phuket, Thailand that are handpicked by locals! We’ve learned that the Prik Lueng and Prik Kaleang are not easy to find in America, although they are common everywhere in Asian countries. Now that we’re able to carry these varieties, you get to grow very rare Thai peppers in your garden and experience all the good flavors they bring!
Continue reading to learn about their special characteristics and what you can do with these beauties.
As we mentioned previously, many Thai peppers can range between 50,000 – 100,000 SHUs. If you compare these to a jalapeno which ranges from 2,500 – 8,000 SHUs, you’ll find there is a noticeable heat difference. If you need more information on hot peppers’ heat levels, check out our Scoville Scale and find out the heat intensity of hot pepper varieties.
Prik Lueng and Prik Kaleang are very similar in heat levels (50,000 – 100,000 SHUs), but the Prik Kaleang is slightly spicier. The Prik Kaleang is said to be the hottest Thai pepper and are favored for making curries, Pad Thai, and other common Thai dishes. Known as the king of heat in Thailand, you can’t go wrong with using this pepper in Thai cuisine and other dishes if you’re craving some tingling heat that gradually builds and builds.
The Prik Lueng is enjoyable for pickling or adding to a salad or sandwich for a pop of flavor and color. If you enjoy Pad Phet, you’ll be happy to know that you can use the Prik Lueng as it is most often used in this dish. Although these chilis are not superhot like the famous Ghost pepper or Carolina Reaper, you will still feel a little sweat to the forehead and a little burn to your tongue when you taste them!
We must warn you though…you may think you can handle the heat when you eat authentic Thai food, but as Chef Polsuk (a famous chef in Thailand) says, “you won’t taste it at first, but after a few bites, you’ll feel it.” Safe to say that we believe him!
Both peppers will display beautiful colors in your garden during their ripening stage. The Prik Lueng ripens from green, bright orange, to then red, looking gorgeous in your garden and in your food. They are quite the showstopper when they ripen to a bright orange color and you’ll want to use these carrot-shaped peppers on anything and anywhere. Not only will you be impressed by their brilliant colors, you’ll be satisfied to know this is a highly prolific variety that frequently produces many peppers.
The Prik Kaleang is more colorful during its maturation stage, ripening from a pale yellow-green, orange, to then a fluorescent orange-red color. If you harvest the Prik Kaleang when they turn different colors, imagine how radiant they’ll look in your culinary dishes! Not only does the Prik Kaleang deliver in impressive heat, flavors, and unique characteristics, but you will be welcomed with a plentiful harvest of these slender peppers, just like the Prik Lueng.
Although we are proud to carry these rare varieties – these aren’t the only Thai peppers that you can get your hands on! Thai peppers are one of our favorite chilis to grow, cook, and to eat fresh, and we cannot get enough of them. If you love growing Thai peppers, check out the other varieties we carry:
Thai Compact, Thai Hot, Thai Dragon F1, Thai Super Hot F1, NuMex Twilight, Kilian, Kristian, and Thai Sun. We even have a huge seed collection of Thai and Cayenne varieties where you can grow 8 varieties in your garden!
Don’t want to start from seed? Let Joe can do the germination work for you and get live pepper seedlings shipped right to your door in early Spring. Happy gardening!