On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the hottest, habanero chilies have got to be a 9. They are firey and make some of the best hot sauce and pickles. Habaneros come in green, orange, and red depending upon their ripeness. Bottles with multi-colored chilies make attractive gifts for chili lovers and they are available nearly year-round.
The Tongans in Polynesia, pack red chilies into a bottle with just seawater. After a week, they use the chilied brine for spicing up fish, meat, and lu (pronounced loo). Lu ika (ika: pronounced ee-kah) is fish wrapped in taro leaves with coconut milk, onions, and garlic. The lu takes on the shape of a ball then is wrapped in banana leaves and baked in the umu (oo moo). They also make lu with chicken, corned beef, and lamb. It is delicious, especially with a few dashes of pickled chile.
The recipe here is my own version of pickled chilies with lime, oregano, garlic and sea salt. The Tongan oregano is much like that found in Mexico. The leaves look and feel like the leaves of an African violet, very pungent in oregano flavor, and grows abundantly in the South Pacific. I was forever thinning out my bushes so they wouldn’t invade every other herb in the garden.
To make pickled habaneros
In an 8oz. sterilized jar or wide-mouth bottle, drop 1 garlic clove, 2 sprigs of oregano, and 1 tsp sea salt. Prick each chile 3 or 4 times with a 2-pronged corncob holder (or a knife point). Pack chiles tightly in the jar without crushing them. In a small stainless-steel sauce pan, place the juice of 2 limes, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 1/4 cup water. Bring just to the boil, remove from heat and pour into jar. Wipe rim and seal. Set in a cool, dark pantry for 1 week. Refrigerate after opening.