Do you like it spicy or mild? We love to kick it up with chiles! Capture the last of the summer heat at home in your kitchen!
All chiles are part of the capsicum family, which even includes completely non-spicy varieties like red and green bell peppers. What gives all chiles, fresh or dried, their head is the chemical capsaicin, which is found in the veins and seeds. That means you can regulate the heat of any chile by removing some or all of those veins and seeds.
You’ll be amazed what you’ll discover when you start to play with the fire and flavor of fresh and dried chiles, but if you’re new to the scene, here’s a roundup of the most popular chiles and their uses:
- Anaheim Chiles, known for their sweet and mild flavor, are commonly used in Mexican dishes. They taste great in chiles rellenos, salsas, sauces, soups and casseroles. They also can be added to omelets, stews and vegetable dishes for a little extra flavor and crunch.
- Poblano Peppers are also popular in Mexican cuisines and taste best when roasted and peeled. Although poblanos are milder than other peppers, you can still keep some of their heat if you keep their seeds. They’re particularly great for stuffing—with rice, beans, vegetables and cheese, poblano-stuffed peppers make for a great dinner idea.
- Jalapeño Peppers range from mild to hot and are extremely popular in Southwestern cooking. They can be used fresh, roasted, filled or pickled, making them one of the most versatile chile peppers out there.
- Serrano Peppers are about five times hotter than jalapeños and tend to be used in sauces and salsas. They can be used with or without their seeds and don’t need to be steamed or peeled before using because of their thin skin. Originating in Mexico, serrano peppers are one of the most commonly used peppers around the world.
- Cayenne Peppers have a moderate heat factor, but are usually found in spicy dishes. They’ve been used for medicinal purposes for centuries and are delicious in Cajun, Mexican and Asian cuisines in particular. Try adding them to dips or salsas for some extra heat.
- Aji Amarillo Chiles have a medium to hot heat level and are a staple in Peruvian cuisine. With a slightly fruity flavor, these chiles are the star ingredient in tons of Peruvian dishes, most notably in sauces, which are often drizzled over chicken, vegetables and even french fries.
- Bird’s Eye Chiles come from Africa and are most commonly used in Thai-style dishes. They are often found in Thai-style dipping sauce, along with lime juice and fish sauce. Just be careful—Bird’s Eye Chiles are one of the hottest chiles out there!