charapita pepper in Vietnam

Aji charapita, arguably the most expensive chilli pepper, gifted for free in Vietnam

Aji charapita, a rare Capsium chinense cultivar, indegenous to the jungles of northern Peru, is known for its hot level. Its Scoville heat range is between 30,000 and 50,000 Scoville heat units, which puts it in line with the cayenne pepper and its fellow Peruvian chili, the aji amarillo. This reportedly costed a minimum of $25,000 per kilo ($11,364 per pound) when it was first discovered. In Peru, the ají charapita pepper is sold at very reasonable prices, so probably the logistics charges contribute greatly to the whooping prices.

charapita chilli in Vietnam
Charapita chilli in Vietnam

Culinarily speaking, charapita pepper is as hot as cayenne pepper, but much less hot than bird’s eye chilli pepper, a common chilli pepper in Vietnam. In Vietnam, the chilli is often eaten raw because it has some aromatic flavor.

charapita in Vietnamese cuisine
Charapita pepper eaten raw in Vietnamese cuisine

In 2017, charapita pepper was first cultivated in Vietnam in Đắk Nông, a province in Central Highlands of Vietnam, and it was sold at approximately 2100 USD per kilo for dried peppers, and 420 USD per killi for fresh ones in 2019. The farmer has multiplied to more than 20,000 trees. In addition to selling domestically, he is also looking for overseas markets.

charapita powder
Charapita powder

Since then, the chilli pepper has attracted many people, and many growers turn the pepper plant into a pet plant or you can se a bonsai plant, because its fruit is as small as a pea. The Vietnamese call it “ớt tiêu” because of its petite size.

charapita pepper as bonsai
Charapita pepper as a bonsai plant.

Recently, one woman in Kiên Giang province has offered this pea-sized peppers free for those who wants to taste for the first time. She was once gifted with a charapita pepper plant from a friend of hers, and now she has a dozen. She added that this type of chilli can be harvested just a week from the moment it has small fruits. In her garden, she has about a dozen trees, so every day she collects a few dozen ripe peppers.

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