THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PREPARE FRESH CHILES
To Roast Fresh Chiles:
1• Chiles are roasted in order to remove the thin skin that covers them, as well as to give them a unique, rich flavor. There are several methods, but the most commonly used technique is roasting over direct heat.
2• Place the chiles directly over a medium flame on a gas stove. Turn the chiles with tongs until their entire skins are charred, approximately 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the heat of the flame and the size of the chiles. Do not char the chiles too much or the flesh will burn and taste bitter.
3• Immediately place the chiles in a plastic bag and close the bag or cover the chiles with a damp cloth and leave for 10 to 15 minutes. This procedure is called “letting the chiles sweat,” and it serves two functions: to make the thin skin easier to remove and to let the chiles cook slightly in their own steam.
To Peel Chiles:
1• Turn on the cold water tap so that a thin stream of water is running out. Hold each roasted chile under the running water and use your fingers to remove the charred skins. If parts of the chiles’ skin stick to the chile, use a paring knife to remove them.
2• Or you can dip the chiles in a medium-size bowl of water as needed to peel each chile. Do not let them soak or they will lose flavor.
To Remove Membranes and Seeds:
1• Some sauces and other dishes use chiles with their seeds and membranes intact, but more often, the seeds and membranes are removed, because that’s where the heat is concentrated. If the chile is to be used whole and stuffed, do not remove the stem and be careful not to break the skin while cleaning.
2• Use a small knife and carefully make a lateral incision in the chile; remove the placenta, which is the small cluster of seeds attached to the base of the stem; also carefully remove the membranes that run the length of the chile.
3• Gently rinse the chile and remove any seeds that are still adhering to it.
4• If the chile is to be cut into strips, cut a “lid” in the top part of the chile around the stem, and remove. Make a lateral incision, pull open, and remove the seeds and membranes. Rinse.
To Soak Fresh Chiles:
1• If you find that the chiles are too fiery, you can soak them to remove excess piquancy.
Soak the chiles in a mixture of
1 cup water,
1 tablespoon white vinegar,
2 teaspoons salt (double or triple the amounts depending on the number of chiles).
Soak for about 40 minutes.