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3 Hot (as in Spicy) Dishes for Summer

In some cultures, when the temperature rises, the food has heat

En español | Hot, spicy foods feature prominently in the equatorial countries — Mexico, India and the Caribbean islands, for example. The reasoning: If you eat something hot, you sweat, and that cools you down. You're also likely to rehydrate. It's why bars set out those complimentary spicy-hot, salty snacks — to boost the bar tab.

Spicy Salmon Vera Cruz Foil Packets (

Spicy salmon Veracruz and other hot dishes can help you cool down during the summertime. —

So, deep into the sweltering days of summer, I'm considering this time-honored antidote and adding a little kick to my meals.

Fresh jalapeno provides the subtle heat in Spicy Salmon Vera Cruz Foil Packets, but the prep and cooking techniques are pretty cool.

Toss all of the ingredients together, divide the mixture into portions and put each atop heavy-duty foil, then seal. Cook them for just eight minutes in a blistering-hot covered grill, where the packet contents are pressure-steamed. Remove the packets from the grill and let them sit for a couple of minutes.

The residual heat will gently cook them to perfection. If you want bolder heat (the spicy kind), add a generous pinch of cayenne pepper or hot red pepper flakes to the mix.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp With Sweet Chili Sauce and Cilantro features two different forms of heat. Before grilling the shrimp, toss them with sriracha (Thai) or chili garlic sauce (Vietnamese) — similar chili concoctions made with vinegar, salt and little sugar. These spicy sauces provide not only the first layer of heat but also enough sugar to encourage browning.

Once the shrimp come off the grill, toss them with bold, sweet Thai chili sauce, balancing the sweet with sour lime and fresh cilantro. The shrimp make a superb appetizer or first course, but you can also serve them with a side of rice and stir-fried vegetables as a main course.

Chopped green chilies, chili powder, salsa — radishes even — all heat up Spicy 7-Layer Chicken Tostadas. For bold heat, opt for hot chili powder and extra-spicy salsa. And for extra kick, don't forget to set out bottles of hot sauce. These days I'm drawn to the green hot sauces and those that feature smoky chipotles.

The next time it's 80 degrees at 7 a.m., forget the frozen pops and iced tea. Reach for the cayenne, hot pepper flakes and spicy chili powder — and cool down, Tijuana-style.

Next page: Recipes for spicy salmon, spicy chicken tostados and spicy grilled shrimp. »

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