9 FRESH CHILES MOST COMMONLY USED IN MEXICAN FOOD
Fresh chiles are usually charred or roasted before being adding to these
To roast larger chiles, turn on a gas burner and set the whole chiles
directly in the flame, turning occasionally, until evenly blistered and
lightly charred on all sides. Alternatively, the chiles can be charred
beneath a hot broiler. Wrap the charred chiles in paper towels until cool,
then remove the stem, split open, and remove the seeds. Rub off the
charred skin with your fingers and use the chiles as directed.
To roast smaller fresh chiles, line the bottom of a heavy skillet with
aluminum foil and place over high heat. Place the whole chiles in the pan
(without oil) and roast on all sides until blistered, turning occasionally.
The following are the fresh chiles most commonly used in Mexican
cooking, listed from the mildest to the hottest.
Diced bell peppers, usually red or green but also available
in yellow, orange, or purple, can either be sautéed or added raw.
Small, pointed, and bright red, fresno chiles (sometimes called
lipstick peppers) are mild and sweet with thin flesh. They are usually used
raw, but may be roasted or stuffed.
Also known as California or chilaca chiles, these large but
narrow pale green chiles have a mild flavor but a true chile taste. They
must be charred, peeled, and seeded before use. When dried, they are
called guajillo chiles.
These large, shiny, dark green chiles have a rich, almost smoky
flavor. They may be spicy, and they must be charred, peeled, and seeded
before use. When dried, they are known as ancho or pasilla chiles.
New Mexico green;
Similar in shape to an Anaheim chile, these are
darker in color and predictably spicy. They must be charred, peeled, and
seeded before use.
Small, plump, and shiny green, sometimes with red patches,
jalapeños may be minced (with or without their seeds) and added raw to
fresh salsas. Roasted and seeded, they may be used in salsas or cut into
rajas (strips). When ripe, dried, and smoked, they are known as chipotles.
Pale yellow with a waxy sheen, güero chiles pack a spicy punch.
They may be used raw in salsas, but are more often roasted and eaten
whole or stuffed.
Small, dark green, and slender, serranos are hotter than
jalapeños. Usually minced (with or without their seeds), they are often
added raw to fresh salsas.
This small, bright orange chile has a pervasive burning heat
that makes the lips tingle.