In Mexico, there are more than 60 types of chili peppers and more than 4,000 varieties of chili peppers are grown around the world. Chili peppers have always been an essential part of Mexican dishes.
Chili peppers add color, flavor, and a kick of spice to many authentic Mexican dishes. Some of the most common chilis in Mexico are the Jalapeño, ancho, cascabel, poblano, chipotle, morita, guajillo, serrano, habanero, pasilla, de arbol, manzano, puya, and piquín chiles.
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Mexico’s Chili Peppers:
- Poblano Chili Peppers: To start with, poblanos are dark green, large chiles that are sometimes called ancho chiles. The word “Ancho” in Spanish means “wide”. The ancho chile is one of the sweetest and mildest types of chili peppers. In dry form, the large and triangular-shaped poblano chile is one of the most common dried peppers in Mexico.
- Jalapeño Chili Peppers: Secondly, jalapeños are another one of the most popular chilies in Mexico and also around the world. Jalapeño peppers are used in several forms including fresh, roasted, pickled, or smoked. In addition, did you know that chipotle peppers are actually just jalapeños that are dried? Once dry, they become smoky, spicy, and a bit sweet. There are two types of chipotle peppers including meco chili peppers which are large and tan in color with a strong flavor, and chipotle morita peppers are small, dark red, and sweet.
- Pasilla Peppers: Next, the pasilla chile is also known as the chile negro. The long pepper is narrow and has dark, wrinkled skin. Pasilla peppers have a range of spices from mild, to medium, and spicy. When dry, pasilla chili peppers are round 6 to 8 inches long, and 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Similar to Guajillo peppers, pasilla peppers have more intense heat and are used in a variety of sauces such as fresh salsa, enchilada sauce, and mole sauce.
- Guajillo Peppers: Next, guajillo chilies are the common ingredient used in salsas specifically made for tamales. To prepare this sauce, the guajillo peppers are first dried, then seeded, then soaked in simmering water. Next, they are pulverized, mashed, or pureed into a paste. Lastly, they are then cooked with several other ingredients to produce a flavorful sauce that pairs perfectly with delicious homemade tamales.
- Serrano Peppers: Another very common pepper in Mexico is the tiny serrano pepper which is very spicy. Originally produced in the mountainous regions of the states of Puebla and Hidalgo, the name serrano refers to the mountains found in those regions.
- Habanero Pepper: Next, one of the spiciest chilies is the habanero pepper. Until they are ripe, habaneros are green and then turn orange or red when ripe. The small peppers are around 4–6 centimeters in length and are loaded with capsaicinoids and have a score of 150,000 Scoville Heat Units which makes the habanero one of the spiciest peppers in the world.
- Ghost Pepper: Last but not least, the ghost pepper is a mix of Capsicum chinense and Capsicum frutescens peppers. In 2007, Guinness World Records selected the ghost pepper as the world’s hottest chili pepper. 170 times hotter than Tabasco sauce, the ghost chili is rated with more than one million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs) which makes it 416 times hotter than a jalapeño pepper.
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