RYAN’S TABLE BY Ryan Tatsumoto

What condiment do you find on dining room tables in Hawai‘i almost as often as shoyu? A good guess would be home-concocted chili pepper water — you know, that suspension of ground Hawaiian chili peppers mashed with salt or sometimes fresh garlic or vinegar and usually stored in either a 16-ounce recycled water bottle or a reused memmi bottle. The 50th’s love of chili pepper water has inspired manufacturers to market their own version of the local favorite.

What’s a Chili Pepper?

All members of the pepper family are rooted in the genus Capsicum, which is part of the larger Solanaceae family — it includes potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and tobacco. What makes members of the Capsicum genus different is their level of capsaicin production, the compound that gives chili peppers its culinary heat.

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