Welcome to an exciting culinary journey into the world of Mexican chili peppers! Mexican cuisine is famous for its vibrant flavors and rich use of a wide variety of chilies. Let's explore many of these fascinating varieties together. All of the chile species described here are native to Mexico, and they offer a sea of colors, aromas, and flavors that will stimulate and perhaps sometimes strain your appetite.
Poblano Chili: A touch of Mexico in the kitchen
The Poblano chillies, with their distinctive shape, are reminiscent of Hungarian pointed peppers. They ripen from dark green to red to dark brown and can reach a considerable size of up to 18 cm in length and a width of up to 7 cm. Despite its size, the plant remains compact at around 60 cm and bears abundant fruit. Noticeable are the depressions around the crown of the pods, which can collect water, and the stems, which are remarkably long in relation to other chilies.
However, what really sets Poblano chilies apart, is their intensely smoky, toasty aroma, accompanied by hints of raisins, chocolate and licorice. On the palate, a bold, intense rum note unfolds with lush dried plums and smoky, earthy nuances. Poblano chili can also be filled during cooking, similar to what you know from peppers.
Special feature: For use as a fresh vegetable, poblanos are harvested green and then roasted. When they turn a strong red color due to ripening, they are used for drying and are then called ancho chilies.
Chiltepin & Piquin Chili: Small pods, great seasoning
Chiltepin and Piquin chilies, also known as Tepin, Bird Pepper or Pequin, may be small, but their flavor is impressive. Despite their size, these tiny berries have an interesting, tart-spicy aroma with sweet-smoky notes reminiscent of juicy habaneras. They are dry-spicy in flavor, similar to rosemary, and develop a delayed but accentuated pungency.
Special feature: These small chilies are excellent for drying and are used crushed or grounded in a variety of dishes such as salsas, soups and stews. They are the ancestors of many well-known chilies and are usually harvested from wild growing bushes.
Chipotle Chili: smoky elegance in the kitchen
Chipotle chilies are unique in their appearance. After the smoking procedure, they become dry-rubby and leathery, ranging from dark red to coffee-brown in color. Chipotles must always have a soft consistency and never be stale-dry or crumbly.
The typical aroma of chipotle chilies ranges from smoky-sweet to tobacco, nutty and chocolaty to fried bacon - perfect for a smoky, spicy culinary experience without having to cook smoked meat along with it.
Special feature: Chipotles are made from jalapeños smoked in underground smokehouses with traditional woods from mesquite trees and pecan trees.
Arbol Chili: The Slim and Smoky
Chile de Arbol is known for its slender shape and bright red color. It grows tall and bushy along the woody trunk and produces a large number of fruits around 7 cm long, very slender and slightly crooked.
On the nose they are intensely toasty and resinous with hints of sweet raisins, dark chocolate and black licorice. On the palate, they offer a balanced, metallic-resinous and one-dimensional spiciness with smoky-tobacco aroma.
Special feature: In Mexico, Chile de Arbol is used exclusively dried and previously soaked in water before being used as a spice.
Habanero Chili: The versatile from the Caribbean
The Habanero chilies are true flavor explosions. The classic Red Habanero is juicy fresh, with delicate peach and vegetable-green hints. In taste they are fragrant-fruity with a wonderful grassy bell pepper note and a rich spiciness.
Special feature: Habaneros are mass producers and can produce up to 5 kg of fresh pods per season. There are many cultivars, including exotic varieties such as the Habanero Tasmanian or the Habanero Mustard.
Serrano Chili: The colorful all-purpose weapon
The Serrano chilies are similar thick-fleshed like Jalapeños, optically somewhat smaller, but contain significantly more seeds. They reach a height of up to 70 cm and are available in green, yellow and red.
The Serrano is juicy-fruity to grassy in aroma. In taste they are crunchy-juicy with a clearly defined, biting spiciness.
Special feature: Serranos are often eaten raw or used to make salsas and pickled versions.
Pasilla Chili: The Long Raisin from Mexico
Pasilla chilies, also known as chilaca, are thin-fleshed and puckered. They grow up to 18 cm long and reddish dark brown like dark chocolate when ripe.
Pasilla translates as small raisin and describes very well the typical aroma of the wrinkled pods.
Special feature: Pasilla chilies are popularly used roasted and peeled in vegetable dishes or as a dried variety for the famous Mexican specialty Mole.
Jalapeño Chili: The Famous from Mexico
The jalapeño, a truly high-yielding chili variety, also springs from the mystical land of Mexico. Its pods, streaked with rich green colors when unripe, are sometimes shrouded in dark spots that reveal their fiery red only late in the season. Their shape, up to 8 centimeters long, the tip gently rounded, and their width of up to 2 centimeters, gives them a plump, crunchy flesh. A true feast for the senses, but not suitable for dried existence - no, it is destined to bathe in aromatic liquids and gain flavor through a smoking process. The surface of the jalapeño, often scarred and riddled with cracks, bears a corky pattern, but this does not detract from its quality and in Latin & South America is even considered rather a sign of its excellence.
The aroma of a Jalapeño, an elegant, delicately fruity and grassy-green composition, enchants the senses with a freshness like the breath of a gentle breeze. The taste, firm and crisp, reveals a pleasant spicy heat that builds slowly but steadily, setting the palate on fire.
But the legends that surround it are also significant. Its name, Jalapeño, borrowed from the city of Xalapa in central Mexico, formerly known as Jalapa, literally means "coming from Xalapa." It is an indispensable ingredient in the mysterious Mexican cuisine, and as it has made its way around the world, it has gained a foothold in the tempting offerings of various fast food temples, ever mindful of its moderate spiciness to please the palate of visitors. This versatile pod is a master of chili cuisine with a unique nuance and it unfolds a manageable spiciness that does not consume the daring.
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Now we have another exciting recipe for you.
Vampire Killer Chili Oil Recipe - Fire in a Jar
- 300 g green Serrano Chilis or Jalapeño Chilis de-stemmed and quartered
- 1 l Sunflower oil
- 20 g Salt
- 10 g Cumin seeds, ground in a mortar/molcajete
- 3 Garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed
- 1 swing top bottle / cork bottle rinsed with boiling water
- Optional for visual impact: 1-3 dried Arbol Chili (without stem), also rosemary or thyme branches can be added to the bottle later on
Put the chilies through a grinder or grind them in a food chopper. Heat the mixture in a pot with 20 milliliters of oil and salt and simmer the stuff for about 6 minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour in the remaining oil and stir in the crushed cumin seeds. Bring it to a boil and let everything boil uncovered for 3 minutes until bubbling. Take the pot off the heat and let the mixture rest for about 30 minutes.
Add the peeled and lightly crushed garlic cloves and let them sit in the oil mixture for another 30 minutes.
Strain the mixture through a fine hair sieve and pour it into bottles previously boiled with hot water. Close the bottles well and store them in a cool place without direct sunlight.
- Optional: Add to the oil 1-3 of the dried red arbol chilies, the stem of which you have previously removed. They can provide a nice visual accent, but also contribute their own note with additional spiciness.
Why the garlic?
The addition of garlic to this chili oil adds a delightful touch of spice and depth to your homemade oil. Garlic is not only known for its aromatic flavor, but it also brings a subtle, slightly sweet note. The combination of garlic with the intense flavors of chilies and the smoky note from cumin creates a chili oil that is wonderful for a variety of dishes.
This aromatic chili oil with garlic is also suitable as a marinade for meat or as a seasoning for soups - possibly also as a dip for your bread. A homemade chili oil is also a good gift for friends.
That's it. Have fun exploring the gentle and coarse spiciness of Mexican chili peppers.