🌶️ A Dozen Varieties of Mexican Chile


From mildest to hottest (on a scale of 1 mildest to 10 hottest), here is a sampling of “chile” peppers from the species Capsicum annuum that are found in Mexico. When you wander the markets here you can spot the tables heaped with chiles from bright red to black, whole, powdered, or turned into various pastes.

You can see the first 6 in my previous post.

7) Jalapeño (5-6) — This bright to dark green, torpedo-shaped chile has a thick, crisp flesh. They are medium hot.  When fully ripe they are red, sweeter, and milder. (8) Chipotle (5-6) — The smoke-dried jalapeño has a reddish to coffee-colored, wrinkled skin.  It is sweet and smoky and used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces.  It can be soaked and puréed.  It is sometimes canned in a tomato sauce. (9) Serrano (6-7) — A medium green chile that ripens to bright red, this chile has a grassy and hot flavor.  It is mainly used in sauces. (10) Chilaca (6-7) — A thin, deep red chile with shiny, vertical ridges, it is roasted and peeled to be used in vegetable dishes or cheese sauces. (12) Pasilla (6-7) — This dried Chilaca is slender and almost black.  Toasted and ground it is used for sauces and seasonings.  In Oaxaca it is also smoked which decreases the heat but intensifies the smoky flavor.

Explore your local market and see if you can find some of these. 
Stay tuned: I’ll take a close-up look at cayenne in an upcoming post. [Resources: Jill Norman, Herbs and Spices: The Cook’s Reference (2002) and Tony Hill, The Spice Lover’s Guide to Herbs and Spices (2004)

Bevin Clare