Wednesday, May 23, 2012


As promised (albeit a couple of days later) - a dictionary of chiles.   Honestly had I not said I was going to do it in my last post, I'd move on to the new recipes I want to post - because I really want to post them.  YUM.  But, This will serve me as much as anything.  It is always easier to pull up my blog than pull out a million cookbooks or search the internet for info.  Most of the info here comes from my Healthy Latin Cooking cookbook, online -see links, or just what I know.)  So, here goes.

First up - Fresh chiles

Ahi Dulce (Cachucha) - very mild - think bell pepper mild, small and colorful (red, yellow, green, orange.) These look a lot like a habanero, but without the heat.  I actually saw and used them a lot in Venezuela, but not here.  Can sub out bell peppers.  Also, not to be confused with Aji amarillo (see dried chiles below) which I just learned about a few weeks ago when we made some Peruvian food with a friend.

Anaheim -mild to moderately hot, 6-8 inches long 1-1.5 inches wide.  Also known as California, california green, and chile verde.  If allowed to ripen, it is know as California red

Cubanelle - mild flavor, yellow or light green, about the size of the Anaheim.  Anaheim chile can be substituted if you can't find these.

Habanero - World's hottest chile (although I've seen show on food network that say otherwise.)  It is 50 times hotter than a jalapeno.  More or less the size and shape of a walnut.  Can be green, yellow, orange, or red.

Jalapeno - moderately hot, bullet shaped 2-3 inches long.  Older jalapenos have a striated skin and are usually hotter.    Smoked and dried they are known as chipotle.  Also popular pickled.

Poblano - mild flavor, large (4 inches long, 2 1/2 inches wide) dark green chile.  When dried, known as ancho chile.

Rocotillo -very mild - also very small (think tip of your thumb) orange, yellow or pale green.  Used in Spanish-Carribean cooking.  Can sub aji dulce/cachucha, or chopped red bell pepper.

Serrano- moderately hot, small (long and thin), bright red or green.  Similar in flavor to Jalapeno and can be subbed for or with jalapeno.

Dried chiles - I must admit in this arena I'm relying much more heavily on research.  I haven't used nearly as many dried chiles as fresh.

Aji amarillo - moderately hot my book says "fiery and fruity."  Long and narrow (3-4 inches long, 1/2-3/4 inch wide)  Chile of Peru.  Comes dried, powdered, or in a paste.  (I have to say that when I used it, I used a paste that my Peruvian friend had given me because I couldn't find the chile in the store.  I used it to make a rice that was quite tasty - guess I should post the recipe. :)

Aji mirasol - medium hot, similar to aji amarillo but bigger, darker and more mild.

Ancho - Dried poblano.  Relatively mild, large (3-4 inches long, 2-3 inches wide) flat and reddish black.    These seem pretty easy to find in the store and I have used them a few times lately.  Most recently in black bean burritos.  (recipe to follow soon.)

Cascabel -hot and slightly sweet.  Small, reddish-brown round shape whose seeds rattle when shaken.  (Cascabel means sleighbell)

Chipotle - smoke dried jalapeno.  Come in 2 varieties and 2 forms.  a larger tan-brown one, and a smaller redder one which is sweeter and less expensive.  They can come dried or canned in adobo sauce.  I've also found chipotle chile powder which I commonly substitute for the actual chiles just because it is much easier and I can control the spice and still get the nice smokey flavor of the chipotle.

To be continued.....
My book still lists an entire page more of dried chiles, but I don't think I've used any of them - at least not recently, so it will wait until another day. :)  This gives me a good start of chiles I've used (most of them anyway)  I plan to add to the list as I come across new chiles in other recipes making this a work in progress.

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