Why Oil Can Help Cool A Fiery Mouth From A Spicy Meal

pouring olive oil on spoon
pouring olive oil on spoon - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

Spicy food has had a sharp and ongoing increase in popularity over the past few years. All kinds of dishes can have the heat dialed up these days, from spicy garlic szechuan noodles to spicy buttermilk fried chicken. Even condiments that were once sweet and mild now come in varieties that are infused with chili, such as hot honey and spicy mayo. Spicy food can be enjoyable and exciting, but you may find yourself encountering a heat level you weren't ready for. If your mouth is on fire after your next bite of a chili-loaded dish, skip the cold water. To really stop the pain of an overly hot ingredient, we recommend reaching for oil.

The vast majority of spicy food is made spicy because of the presence of one key compound: capsaicin. Capsaicin is found in almost all types of peppers to different degrees, and the more capsaicin a pepper has, the spicier it will be. To stop the hurt, you will need to either remove, neutralize, or dissolve the capsaicin that is resting on your tongue. It just so happens that capsaicin is oil soluble, meaning that swilling a spoonful of olive oil in your mouth is a quick and effective way to wash the compound from your tongue — as opposed to water, which does not dissolve capsaicin and will only move it around.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

Skip Plain Oil In Favor Of Oily Side Dishes

dipping bread in oil
dipping bread in oil - Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Since oil will dissolve capsaicin on a molecular level, you can choose to use pretty much any kind of oil to achieve this effect. As such, it is best to choose a food-safe oil and, of course, one that tastes good. Olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil are all good options. No special technique is needed; simply take a generous sip of said oil and gently swish it around your mouth until the pain has subsided. Feel free to either swallow the oil or spit it out after rinsing, and enjoy the feeling of a spice-free tongue.

If drinking or swirling oil in your mouth on its own is not something you wish to do, there are plenty of foods and ingredients that feature oil in a way that will still help to tame the spice of another dish. Serve up your next hot recipe with an accompanying plate of bread and dipping oil or a salad dressed in olive oil and lemon juice. Even non-spicy foods that contain a large amount of oil, like nut butter, olive oil cake, or even marinated feta, can do the trick in a pinch.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.