To know your Mexican food, you have to know your chilies. Here’s a guide to the 7 most common chilies found in Mexican food and how they are used.
7 Chilies that Give Your Mexican Food Flavor
Some like it hot and some like it very hot! Here are 7 different chilies that are used in Mexican food. See if you can figure out which one of the chili peppers is your favorite!
1. Poblano Chili Peppers: These are the largest of the chilies. Their temperature ranges from mild to hot. When roasted, they have an earthy flavor. Look from them to star in your chili rellenos.
2. Serrano Chili Peppers: If you like it hot, you’ll like a serrano. They deliver a fiery taste. You’ll find them in salsa – probably the one marked hot. They’re also eaten raw and used in pico de gallo.
3. Chipolte Chili Peppers: If you were wondering how that chain got its name, now you know their namesake. However, chipotle starts life as a jalapeno. Once it is smoked for that unique smokey flavor, it becomes a chipotle – a flavor that is growing in popularity.
4. Ancho Chili Peppers: This is another chili that starts out life with a different name. An ancho pepper is a dried poblano. When dried, it takes on a reddish-brown color – the color of chili pepper which is where you’ll most commonly find the ancho.
5. Fresno Chili Peppers: This may be one that you haven’t heard much about. It’s looks like a sweet green pepper until it ripens to a beautiful red, and it has a little more bite. It looks like a jalapeno but isn’t quite that hot. If you want to spot one in the field. The Fresno grows with the point up instead of down. You’ll find them in ceviche and salsa and they are traditionally paired with black beans and rice.
6. Jalapenos Chili Peppers: This is a name you know. You’ll find them diced in cans for you to add to your homemade salsa and, even, pickled in jars. They are usually mild, but like any chili some will be hotter than others. As they ripen, they change from green to purple to red. They are widely cultivated and account for about 30% of Mexico’s chili crops.
7. Habanero Chili Peppers: This is it – the hottest of the chili peppers. They’re bright orange and look a bit like a sweet green pepper. Don’t be fooled. Their rating on the Scoville hottest scare is 100,000–350,000. This is not a chili for the uninitiated or the beginner. This is the chili for those who know they can stand the heat.
From smoked to dried, each chili pepper brings something unique to the table. Knowing which one is which may give you the chance to impress your waiter at your favorite Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale. Also, enjoy chef-oriented Mexican food where a chili may show up in an unusual place!