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I saw the answer at https://cooking.stackexchange.com/a/23560/49643, which makes me think it won't be great. My goals are (in this order):

  1. Retain flavor
  2. Obtain good enough texture for sautéing
  3. Retain heat (capsaicin)

Most of the time, I'll probably be putting said chilis on a burger. Just had a burger with fresh habaneros that I sautéed and really liked the flavor (though I admit it caused profuse sweating), but would like to go a little more spicy. Short of growing my own peppers (which I may do some), there isn't a great way to buy spicier peppers, such as chocolate or Red Savina habaneros or ghost peppers, etc.

For point 3, I was wondering if anyone has tried steaming peppers? I suppose it is possible the steam might carry away some of the capsaicin and other flavor chemicals. Doing this in an enclosed environment with a small amount of water might help though.

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    Consider buying them fresh whenever they are available, and freezing them - not as good texture as fresh, but certainly better than rehydrated... Also, chinense peppers like habanero, naga etc are rarely offered dried and whole. Or, pickle them sambal oelek style.... – rackandboneman Jul 17 '18 at 1:29
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Frankly drying is not the way to go if you want to retain flavor and texture. When you dry fruit (chilis are fruits, not vegetables) you make a load of irreversible changes in texture and flavor. A chili is made of tiny cells filled with liquid, the drying process ruptures these so the water can escape. Rehydrating a dried chili doesn't make it plump up again, really you get more of a soggy mess.

Flavor-wise you'll lose some of that chili essence, the non heat flavor. Heat-wise you'll retain the spice, if anything it gets more concentrated.

You can steam peppers, it's a good way to cook them without losing flavor, and no the steam won't carry flavor away. It won't concentrate the chili flavor though or make them spicier somehow.

Growing your own really spicy chilis can be done, depending on the climate you may need a greenhouse.

If heat is your goal your best bet is to shop around for the spiciest peppers you can and then eat them raw rather than cooking them first, or turn them into a hot sauce. Include the seeds and the pith if you really want to feel it. If you can't find them fresh often then freeze them, they keep for years if they're sealed up properly, and although their texture isn't as good as fresh it's the closest you'll get.

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I grow my own chillies and to keep them available year round I freeze some and dry some. Last night's stir fry had a couple of frozen chillies in (after being out of the freezer for 5 minutes they chop easily and are ready to add to the pan). The night before I used some dried chillies in a slow cooked 3 bean chilli. This demonstrates the different uses nicely.

I have added flakes of dried chilli to the oil when cooking a stir fry. That gives a nice chilli-oil base to the sauce but it's not like eating chillies. If I get a good crop this year I'll try pickling some, they would go nicely on a burger.

If you can really only get dried chillies, get the hottest you can and make relish/chutney from them.

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