Sunday, May 26, 2013

So a Khajit, an Argonian, and an Orc Walk Into a Skooma Den...

Now legal in the Ratway, the alley behind the Winking Skeever, and Washington State.
 ...and get totally blasted on skooma.

Ah yes, sweet, sweet skooma... sweet, mind-numbing, haze-inducing, brain-cell-slaughtering skooma. Loathed by uptight Imperial soldiers everywhere in Cyrodiil, you can find plenty of it while wandering the wilds of Skyrim. Buy it at any Khajit caravan, from random skooma dealers encountered on the road, or - best of all - make your own with this Real Life Skooma Recipe!

I did - and I will openly, immediately admit that this is a really weird recipe with a really odd mix of flavors. It's not for the faint of stomach or frail of liver. It's not going to be to everyone's taste. But it's as canon as anything else Lexi and I have concocted for this blog, and if you're a diehard Skyrim fan with Daedric-strength tastebuds, give this one a shot.

Skooma in-game is made from refined moon sugar. A book from Morrowind, An Alchemist's Guide to Skooma, describes the recipe in greater detail (I would seriously love to meet the game designer who wrote it). In developing my own recipe, I started with the following descriptions from the book:
In Elsweyr skooma is made from moon sugar and a poisonous herb called nightshade... the preparation of skooma requires that the alchemist dissolve some moon sugar in water and bring it to the boil. For one pint of water you should add one cup of moon sugar. Once it is boiling, add one thimble full of nightshade essence.
That right there, my friends, is simple syrup with powdered nightshade added. Straightforward, basic, and something Lexi and I have done before, in our recipes for Elsweyr Fondue and the Velvet Lachance. Reasoning that trying to make simple syrup using our own moon sugar recipe might cause some issues with melting, I fell back on the variation we came up with for the fondue:

1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup water
1-2 Tbsp of lavender or culinary sumac

Boil sugar in water. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat immediately and add lavender or culinary sumac to taste, usually 1 or 2 Tbsp. Let cool. (If you make with lavender, we recommend straining before use to get the lavender bits out.)

Left: Sumac Simple Syrup (Secunda)
Right: Lavender Simple Syrup (Masser)
With the Velvet Lachance, we solved the issue of where we might get nightshade; the nightshade family is vast, and there are, in fact, quite a few edible plants within it: tomato and eggplant are some examples, but for spice and kick we went with peppers. And oh, there are sooo many to choose from... which ones to use?

Clockwise, starting with the fresh red pepper on the left: Thai pepper, chipotle powder, ancho chili powder, cayenne chili powder, crushed jalapeno peppers, Aleppo pepper (center), Guajillo pepper (long purplish dried pepper), Sanaam chili pepper (bottom)
This is where the flavor really comes into this recipe, and where you can go hog wild, picking and choosing as many (or as few) peppers as you wish. And I highly encourage readers to experiment on your own: we came up with flavors we liked, but there are so many more possible variations out there. Here's the basic recipe:

4-6 oz. simple syrup
A pinch to a teaspoon of peppers (crushed, minced, dried, powder, a mix of peppers or a single variety)

Mix the peppers into the simple syrup. Let sit for an hour or two. Strain. Mix with an equal part vodka, over ice or as straight shots. Lose your mind and yowl like a horny desert cat at the moon's dim light.

  • Lavender has a stronger flavor than sumac, so will stand up to the stronger peppers.
  • Don't let your base mixture sit for very long. Either drink it right away, or strain out the pepper after an hour (2 hours tops). If you let it sit, it tastes terrible.
  • Fresh peppers have a milder flavor than powdered (at least the ones we tried), but may have more heat.
  • Combinations that worked reasonably well were lavender and chipotle, lavender and Guajillo pepper, sumac and Aleppo pepper, and sumac and Thai pepper.
  • Don't drink this without cutting it with vodka (or gin, if you want something sweeter and fruitier). It's too cloyingly sweet without being diluted.
  • Goes well with Elsweyr Fondue and a need to erase the bleak lawlessness of Skyrim from your mind.


  1. That book was written for a mod called tamriel rebuilt. It says so on the page you linked. It's not canon. Neat recipe though.

    1. Well, true, it's technically not canon. But it's the closest thing I found. Glad you like the recipe - it's an odd one!

  2. How would you go about straining the syrup?

    1. I strained the syrup by waiting until it had cooled down, then pouring it into a glass jar through a fine-meshed strainer. That got most of the lavender bits out just fine.

      The sumac syrup doesn't really need to be strained.

  3. I don't have a fine mesh strainer(can't find one anywhere), what would you suggest I use?

    1. In the absence of a fine mesh strainer, you can try a coffee filter, or else cheesecloth or a flour sack towel lining a colander. Pour fairly slowly, as the liquid will soak through the cloth slowly.

      In a serious pinch you can also try a couple of paper towels (either folded into a cone or lining a colander), but they need to be pretty strong so they don't fall apart when saturated with liquid.

      Hope this helps!