THERE'S a lot more to hot food than the jalapeno peppers that chili heads throw into a pot of simmering beef and beans. This glossary includes some common hot ingredients from around the world: Anise pepper: One of the ingredients of five-spice powder, made from the dried, roasted berries of the anise plant, reddish-brown. Use sparingly in Chinese dishes as it can kill all other flavors present. Tingles the tongue. Also used in curries, cakes and candies and bread. (See five-spice powder.)
Black pepper: Berries of a vine that grows in the tropical rain forests of Asia. These vines grow in strings and are picked in their first stage of ripening--when they are green. Sun drying, which follows, turns them black. Several varieties, differing in color, size and pungency. (See garam masala.)
Cayenne pepper: Ground pods of dried red chili pepper. Hot and pungent. Used with fish, meat and vegetables, and bottled and sold as hot pepper sauce. Use whole pods for pickling and to season oils and vinegars. (See dried red chili pepper, hot pepper sauce.)
Chili pepper (capsicum): Many fresh varieties of this fruit differing in taste, size, shape, color and pungency. Used in cooking all over the world. The most common varities include aji, Hungarian mild, Hungarian hot, caribe, serrano, anaheim, jalapeno, hotonka and cubanelle. Usually elongated, conical and very pungent. African varieties are generally the hottest in the world; Japanese chilies are the mildest. Chop finely and use to liven almost any dish. The seeds, which are the hottest part, can be scraped out and the skins blanched in boiling water to tone the fire in dishes. (See chili sauce, hot black bean sauce, hot pepper sauce, plum sauce, sambal ulek.)
Chili pepper oil: Oil seasoned with whole dried chilies or crushed red pepper flakes. Used in salads, dips or to flavor foods while stir-frying. (See dried red chili pepper.)
Chili powder: Two types: Chinese and Mexican. Chinese-style is made from dried ground chilies and is much hotter than Mexican-style chili powder, which is mostly ground cumin. Used to season meat, fish, vegetables and chili. (See cumin, dried red chili pepper, tandoori mix.)
Chili sauce (or paste): Several types. Chinese-style is made with crushed chili peppers, salt, vinegar and occasionally garlic. It is very hot. Used to flavor stir-frys, as a sauce for uncooked vegetables and to season dips. Malaysian, Singaporian or Sri Lankan chili sauce is either hot or sweet. Heavily seasoned with salt, ginger, garlic and vinegar. (See chili peppers.)
Cumin: Yellow-brown seed of a plant of the parsley family. Highly aromatic and similar in appearance to caraway seed, but the flavor is stronger and less refined. Pungent and somewhat bitter. It is one of the major flavors in store-bought chili powder and is a regular spice for curries. (See chili powder, garam masala.)
Dried red chili pepper: Used in most Chinese and Indian dishes. Thin, about 2 inches long and deep red. They are extremely hot. Used to season oil before adding ingredients. Also used on pizza. (See cayenne pepper, chili pepper oil, chili powder.)
Five-spice powder: Reddish-brown powder composed of ground star anise, fennel, cinnamon, cloves and sichuan pepper. Used in Chinese cooking for roasting meats, poultry and in certain desserts. (See anise pepper, sichuan peppercorn.)
Garam masala: This is a ground spice mixture of black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and cumin used in Indian curries. (See black pepper, cumin, tandoori mix.)
Hot black bean sauce (chili bean sauce): A mixture of fermented soy beans and ground hot chilies. Used to flavor Chinese dishes. (See chili pepper.)
Hot pepper sauce: A mash of crushed peppers, left to age for three years. The mash is then mixed with vinegar and bottled. Tabasco, cayenne and jalapenos are most commonly used peppers in these various sauces either separately or in combination. (See cayenne pepper, chili pepper, tabasco pepper.)
Mustard, hot Chinese: Made of ground mustard seeds mixed with water. If made from scratch, let it sit for an hour before using since it changes flavor from harsh and bitter to spicy and hot.
Mustard seed, black: A black seed of the mustard plant used in India. Much hotter and more aromatic than yellow mustard seed. Fry in oil along with cumin seeds for salad dressing.
Paprika: A cousin of the cayenne and chili peppers. The peppers are grown to various degrees of hotness. They are dried and ground to a fine powder and can be purchased sweet, mild and hot. Use any or all to flavor Hungarian food. (See tandoori mix.)
Plum sauce: A spicy, sweet, hot Chinese sauce or dip made from plums, chilies, vinegar, spices and sugar. (See chili pepper.)
Sambal ulek: A combination of chilies and salt, used in cooking or as an accompaniment to Indonesian dishes. (See chili pepper.)
Sichuan peppercorns: Regional spice of Sichuan. Like regular black peppercorns in appearance, they numb the tongue slightly when eaten. Not hot as chili peppers are hot; their flavor is spicy and aromatic. Often used with chili peppers. (See five-spice powder.)
Tabasco pepper: Small thin-walled pepper, about 2 1/2 inches long. It is a cousin of the chili pepper. The smaller the pepper the hotter. Each is very hot and pungent. Used to make bottled hot sauces to flavor dishes and to season beverages. (See hot pepper sauce.)
Tandoori mix: A blend of hot and fragarant spices including turmeric, paprika, chili powder, garam masala, ground cardamom and powdered saffron. Used to season spicy Indian dishes. (See chili powder, garam masala, paprika.)
Wasabi powder: Hot green powder from fried Japanese horseradish. Mix with water and use to flavor sauces, dips and as a dressing for sushi.