A friend of mine years back related a story about an appetizer that he ordered at an Asian restaurant that was apparently quite unusual. It was a bowl of something (possibly peppers or another vegetable) where each piece looked completely identical, but one out of every 15-20 of them was extremely spicy. The rest tasted rather mild, so he and his friends would go around the table basically playing a kind of Russian roulette with spicy food.

Does anybody have any idea of what this could be?

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    Sounds like pimientos de Padrón, although 5% hot ones is much better than my experience. Do you know which country's cuisine is implicated? – Peter Taylor Jul 8 '14 at 17:08
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    From Wiki: "Padrón peppers are small, with an elongated, conic shape. The taste is mild, but some exemplars can be quite hot, which property has given rise to the popular aphorism Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non ('Padrón peppers, some are hot, some are not'). Typically, there is no way of determining whether a given pepper will be hot or mild, short of actually eating it." BTW, that article suggests that as many as 20% may be of the hot variety. – Jolenealaska Jul 8 '14 at 17:16
  • It could also be Anaheim Chilis, most are mild but one in 20 will take paint off of a door. – GdD Jul 8 '14 at 19:06
  • Fresh cayenne peppers also look treacherously similar to far less spicy chili cultivars... – rackandboneman Jan 24 '16 at 21:01

It sounds like it could be Shishito peppers, which about 10% are spicy, and "even experts may not be able to distinguish relative hotness on the same plant.".

Shishito peppers

  • Any pepper can have this, I don't know why you are constraining it to a certain kind of peppers. – rumtscho Jul 12 '14 at 11:08

In Japan there's a notion of a "batsu game" in which the unlucky participant gets something unpleasant.

Some of them are sort of "voluntary," such as drinking games, where the unlucky loser of a particular round of challenges has to drink something, sometimes something considered unpleasant. But the other category often involves food with surprise additions, such as chilies or powdered wasabi embedded into spring rolls or gyoza or similar items.

Shishito can have variable spiciness (as do any chilies, really, other than ones specifically bred for sweetness like bell peppers), but I've never heard of it being used for a batsu game. (Not that I am an authority on the wide variety of batsu games out there).

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