TOUCHE! Always used with an exclamation point, a punctuation mark I seldom use.

In fencing, it is used as an acknowledgment of a hit by one’s foe. It is also used as an acknowledgment during a discussion of a good or clever point made at one’s expense.

Touche, siling espada (in Cebuano literally sword chili because of its lanceolate shape). There’s no argument. It’s hands down, it’s a no-brainer that siling espada or finger chili adds charm to any dish it gets involved with.

Siling espada is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum. As any fruit, it is rich in vitamins A, B and C but I’m sure you’d prefer having your As from mangoes and apples. It has significant amounts of iron, thiamine, niacin, magnesium and riboflavin, according to specialtyproduce.com.

The common application of siling espada in Cebuano cuisine can be found in tinuwang isda (fish soup), tinolang manok (boiled chicken with vegetables) and inun-unang isda (pickled fish). It’s unfortunate that it has limited use since its heat index hits 6-8 Scoville units and perks up the dish.

To maximize its potential, people can add minced sili to salt for a spicy dip for sliced pineapples and green mangoes. It can be pickled for a perky side dish. Now let’s try the following.

DINAMITA. The dish is called dinamita or dynamite because it explodes with heat. To make it, slit finger chili. If you want it less spicy, remove the seeds and white pith; otherwise, leave them intact. Mix ground pork, minced garlic and onion, and salt and pepper to taste; use to stuff peppers. Wrap in half lumpia wrapper and seal edges with water. Deep-fry until golden brown. You can also stuff sili with cheese sticks or ham.

SILI CON CARNE. To make this traditional dish with siling espada, have on hand minced large garlic cloves; lean ground beef; three cans whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped; salt and pepper to taste, and minced siling espada. Some recipes call for the addition of ground cumin, paprika, dried oregano, two cinnamon sticks and six whole cloves.

In a deep pot, saute spices until soft. Add ground beef and stir until browned. Add in tomatoes with liquid, salt and pepper (if using other spices, add them now). Cook slowly until bubbly, then add cooked kidney beans. Boil for another 15 minutes.