The Kitchen Tool That Makes Mincing Chile Peppers A Breeze

Spicy food makes the world go round. A little bit of jalapeño, serrano, or habañero makes the difference between killer guacamole and a pile of mashed avocado and adds a much-needed kick to a margarita that might otherwise be too sweet or sour.

But everyone knows that cutting spicy food can be dangerous. Hot peppers like jalapeños contain a compound called capsaicin that produces the outrageous heat that often takes you by surprise a few seconds after biting into that hot sauce-laced burrito. 

Measured in Scoville units, peppers with these properties can vary greatly in heat level from one pepper to another, even if they grew on the same plant. Capsaicin in chile oil can linger on your fingers, getting into your eyes or irritating your skin. So the less contact you have with hot peppers, the better.

This makes mincing a pepper, as many recipes suggest, far from ideal. It can result in chunks of jalapeño that will distribute unevenly throughout your recipe. It can also get hot chile oils all over your hands. Plus, who wants to dirty another cutting board and knife when you only need a little bit of extra heat? Luckily, there is one kitchen tool that helps you cut your chiles with minimal contact and with fewer items to clean later.

Using a microplane creates a minced texture with less hassle

The next time a recipe calls for minced pepper, halt from grabbing a knife. Instead, try grating your pepper with a microplane. Technically a brand name, a microplane is a catchall for a certain kind of zester or grater. Unlike a box grater, which is built to stand sturdily on a cutting board while you grate your carrots or zucchini into an enclosed space, microplanes are long and thin, meant to be held by the handle over food while you grate in midair.

Chefs often use microplanes for things like garlic or ginger because this gadget results in a finer and more uniform texture than you could probably achieve with a knife. They are also used for zesting citrus because their blades are spaced closely and are extremely sharp, resulting in a finer zest than standard graters.

Try out this easy and extremely helpful technique for a chunky flavorful pineapple salsa or to kick it up a notch with cuban black beans that call for minced or diced jalapeños. Your clean hands and tingling mouth will thank you.