Hot Chiles

Hot Chiles - Salsa Recipes

Salsa Recipes

How Warm Are Those Peppers?

Hot Chiles, by and large, the bigger the pepper, the milder it is; the smaller, the hotter.

The ribs of the peppers are where most of the capsaicin--the chemical that causes the mouth and skin to burn--is concentrated, but the seeds also contain a bit of the capsaicin. Removing the ribs will tone down the heat tremendously.

The redder a pepper is, the sweeter it is likely to be. This is a function of the hot fruit ripening, just as with other fruits. It also means that the flesh has been in contact with the ribs and seeds longer, so reds will be hotter as well as sweeter than their green former selves.

Hot Chiles heat is often measured by the Scoville heat index. Invented by pharmacist Walter Scoville in 1912, the index measures the impact of peppers on the tongue. Scoville gave peppers a score based on the amount of sugar-water necessary to cancel the burn. If hot chiles is rated at 5,000 Scoville units, that means the capsaicin extracted from it needs 5,000 times its volume in sugar water to neutralize it.

An effective quencher for burning palates is milk. Capsaicin is soluble in fat and alcohol, but barely at all in water. Starch helps, beer is good, yogurt and milk are great--but water just spreads the flames around.

Take care when handling hot chiles. Wear gloves to keep the capsaicin off your skin. Wash the cutting board and utensils thoroughly in hot soapy water. Don't touch your eyes or other sensitive areas until your hands are completely clean.

Just How Hot Are Those HOT Chiles?

The jalapeño has the distinction of being the most-consumed hot chiles pepper in the United States. (Nachos, anyone?) Its ease of seeding and spicy flavor keep the masses clamoring for more with a heat level that ranges from moderately hot to very hot.

3,500-7,000 SCOVILLE UNITS

The most popular pepper in the country, it is sweet and thick-fleshed. When smoked and dried it is called a chipotle. Watch for new, vivid purple jalapenos in markets this fall.

Both green and red jalapenos add a gentle boost to guacamole. They're good roasted or pickled.

Chipotle Pronounced, chih-POHT-lay is actually a dried, smoked, red jalapeno. It has a wrinkled, dark brown skin with a smoky, sweet flavor that hints of chocolate. It's commonly added to sauces and stews.

Warning these are hot, hot, hot chiles! Order extra sour cream or a tall milk before introducing the fiery habanero to your taste buds. About 60 times hotter than the jalapeño, this native of the Yucatan Peninsula and the Caribbean Islands may be the closest thing we have to edible fire, always wear rubber gloves when slicing them. Small and lantern-shaped, with a skin ranging from light green to bright orange when ripe, this chile is generally used both fresh and dried for sauces.There aren´t many tongues that can handle it any other way.


Serrano Does your salsa or guacamole lack kick? Try adding the serrano chile's extreme heat. This mainly Mexican-grown pepper has a smooth, bright-green skin that turns scarlet, then yellow as it matures. In the American Southwest, people can't get enough of serranos en escabeche hot chiles pickled with carrots and onions), which is consumed as a spicy snack.

5,000-15,000 SCOVILLE UNITS

When jalapenos are no longer enough, move up the heat scale to the serrano. This pepper has a pleasant, crisp taste combined with blistering heat,

Try it raw in coleslaw, salads, and salsas.


Poblano Chiles rellenos -- you know them, you love them. But did you know these are actually stuffed poblanos? This dark green, triangular chile boasts a rich flavor that ranges from mild to spicy. When dried, it's called an ancho chile, commonly used in mole sauces.

2,500-3,000 SCOVILLE UNITS

A large, mild, thick-fleshed pepper, the poblano (also called pasilla) is best roasted to bring out its earthy and rich flavor Its dried form is the ancho, often used to make mole,

The poblano is the most popular pepper for both roasting and stuffing.

Chile Con Queso

20 fresh green Chile's, roasted and peeled
5 Tablespoons peanut oil
1 Medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Medium tomato, skinned
3/4 Cup milk
3 Tablespoons water
1/2 Pound muenster or mild cheddar cheese
1−1/2 Teaspoons salt

  1. Roast and peel the Chile's and cut them into rajas (strips) without removing the seeds.

  2. Heat the oil and cook the onion, without browning, until it is soft.

  3. Slice the tomato thinly and add it with the rajas to the onions in the pan.

  4. Cover and cook over a medium flame for about 8 minutes.

  5. Add the milk and water and let the mixture cook for a few minutes more.

Just before serving, cut the cheese into thin slices and add, with the salt, to the chile mixture. Serve as soon as the cheese melts.



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Dried Chiles

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