Miami's Ten Spiciest Dishes: Murg Vindaloo, "Salsa of Life" and Spicy Conch Salad

Miami Spice, now in its 11th year, has grown to become one of the most popular events of the year. For two months, its a foodie's dream -- South Beach Wine & Food Festival at Festival Flea Market prices. With Miami Spice kicking off this past Wednesday, Short Order decided to get a little better acquainted with spice in Miami.

Our quest was to find the spiciest dishes in Miami, and in the process, we ended up on a mouth-watering world cuisine tour. From signature Indian vindaloo at Mint Leaf to Clive's special Jamaican jerk seasoning, Short Order spanned the spicy food globe. There were dishes we didn't expect (ancho chili ice cream, anyone?) and alcoholic drinks with an extra kick to them. We also learned that hot spiciness, or piquance (pronounced pee-kens), is measured using the Scoville scale, named after the American pharmacist that created it back in 1912.

The Scoville scale measures the amount of capsaicin, the chemical compound found in piquant peppers that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in your mucous membranes. Plants developed the ability to produce capsaicin as a deterrent to fungi and herbivores. For humans, it actually acts as an appetite stimulant once the initial burning sensation is overcome. Jalapenos are among the least spicy popular peppers, with a Scoville rating of between 2,500-5,000. Tabasco has a rating of about 30,000-50,000; while scotch bonnet and habanero peppers rate a powerful 100,000-350,000. In comparison, pure capsaicin rates a steep 16 million.

The restaurants aren't in the business of making spicy food for spicy's sake -- they are in the business of making good food. While all of these dishes have a kick to them, the most important thing when it came to rating was not only how piquant they were, but how good they tasted.

"The trick with making things spicy is you have to make sure you use the right amount of spice," said Tap Tap managing partner Gary Sanon-Jules. "Too much can make the dish unpleasant to eat."

Miami's Ten Spiciest Dishes: Murg Vindaloo, "Salsa of Life" and Spicy Conch Salad

10. Murg Vindaloo at Mint Leaf Indian Brasserie
Indian food is known to be spicy, and no matter where you find it, vindaloo is usually the spiciest dish on the menu. Mint Leaf, which is quickly becoming a neighborhood favorite in both Brickell and Coral Gables, offers an authentic chicken vindaloo that is also the most expensive chicken on the menu ($31). The spiciness comes from the combination of hot curry and Kashmiri chilies, ingredients in the vinegar, sugar and ginger marinate it sits in overnight.

Miami's Ten Spiciest Dishes: Murg Vindaloo, "Salsa of Life" and Spicy Conch Salad
Courtesy of Doraku

Courtesy of Doraku
9. Kagu Tsuchi "God of Fire" Roll at Doraku

Located in South Beach and the middle of Mark Brickell Village,


 stands out with selections like the "God of Fire" roll. ($13.50) Spicy tuna, cucumber and jalapeño is wrapped and topped with tuna sashimi, masago and spicy garlic aoli. The jalapeno's bite sneaks in behind the smooth flavor of the spicy tuna and is dulled by the flavor of garlic in every bite.

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