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CHILES

FRESH CHILES

CHILACA
Spice Level: 4-5

This long, narrow green chile is almost blackish-green in color. It is the fresh version of the pasilla chile and has a complex, fruity flavor.

HABANERO
Spice Leve: 10

These are Mexico’s hottest chiles. The delicate looking green, yellow and orange "lanterns" are prized by the Yucatecos for their hotter-than-heck fire. They range in crispness from green, the crispest, to orange, the softest. The special fruity flavor compliments fresh salsas made with tropical fruits.

JALAPEÑO
Spice Level: 5-6

The name derives from Jalapa, Veracruz. These familiar peppers are cylindrical in shape and about 2 ½ inches long and 1 inch wide. Whether raw, dry or pickled, these shiny, dark green chiles are perfect for salsas and cooked sauces.

POBLANO
Spice Level: 3

Like many chiles, poblanos are initially green and ripen to a dark red. They are large, roughly 3 1/2 inches long and 2 1/4 inches wide, and sometimes heart-shaped. Although not very hot, poblanos have a rich, earthy flavor that is intensified when the chiles are roasted and peeled. Often, stuffed chiles (chiles rellenos), rajas (toppings), sauces and soups draw flavor and spice from the poblano. 

SERRANO
Heat: 7-8

The serrano pepper is a very hot chile, falling between the jalapeño and the habenero. Used often in salsas and table sauces, the serrano is easy to work with because of its thin skin.

DRIED CHILES

These chiles ripen on the plant and then either dry in the sun, or ferment slightly under sacking before they dry in ovens. Chiles for moles and adobos are roasted and soaked in hot water, but dried chiles should never be peeled after soaking.

ANCHO
Spice Leve: 3

The most abundant dried chile in Mexico, the ancho is a dried red poblano with a fruity, slightly sharp flavor. When rehydrated, anchos make great stuffed chiles (chiles rellenos), but should not be peeled first.

CASCABEL
Spice Leve: 4

The word means “rattle,” referring to the distinctive noise this chile makes when you shake it. It is small and round with a smooth, almost polished red surface. It is pleasantly hot and spices up many table sauces.

CHILE DE ÁRBOL
Spice Level: 7-8

This dried chile is smooth, thin, long and bright red in color. It has a sharp hot flavor that is often featured in hot table sauces. When ground into a powder form, the chile de árbol doubles as a spicy condiment.

CHIPOTLE
Spice Level: 5-6

The chipotle is a large, dried, smoked jalapeño, also known as a chile ahumado or a chile meco. It is coffee brown in color, veined and ridged, measuring about 2 to 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. The flesh is a medium thickness with a smoky flavor and subtle, deep, rounded heat. As much as one-fifth of the Mexican jalapeño crop is processed as chipotles. Used mainly in soups, salsas, and sauces, chipotles are a staple of Mexican and Southwestern cooking. They are also available canned in a red adobo sauce.

GUAJILLO
Spice Level: 3

The word literally means “big pod.” The burgundy chile is elongated and triangular in shape. It is one of the most frequently used chiles in Mexico, with a crisp, sharp flavor that ranges from fairly hot to hot.

MULATO
Spice Level: 2

This chile’s name refers to its dark color. While these chiles begin a dark green color, they are most valuable (and most flavorful) when fully ripened to a rich brown. Mulatos range from mild to fairly hot. The sweetish taste and color are perfect for mole poblano.

PASILLA
Spice Level: 3

A long, narrow chile, the pasilla is blunt or slightly pointed at the end. It has a shiny black skin and grows to about 6 inches long and 1 inch wide. Pasillas’ sharp, rich flavor is excellent for soups, as well as moles and adobos.

PASILLA DE OAXACA
Spice Leve: 8

This unique and delicious chile is grown in isolated valleys of Oaxaca, and only in small quantities. It ripens on the plant and is smoked under rustic conditions. The skin is wrinkled, but shiny, and the chile is very hot.

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