Different types of dried Mexican chili. Which dried Mexican chili do you need?
I love the grassy heat of a fresh Serrano or jalapeno, and the complicated spice of a poblano, but although fresh chilis enliven a lot of dishes I love, the dried chili with its incredible complexity of flavor reigns supreme in Mexican cooking.
There are a number of different varietals of dried Mexican chili's, and they all have very different heat, flavor and textures. Some can be substituted for each other, but many cannot. Here is a brief description of the more common dried chilis used in Mexican cooking.
Ancho, sweet and easy...
The king of the Mexican chilis, the ancho is simply a dried poblano, and like the poblano which can vary greatly in heat so too can the ancho, although it is not a particularly spicy chili. The ancho is used as the backbone of most mole sauces, and a great many other dishes, and is often used in conjunction with other chilis. The ancho has a rich, and almost sweet taste, and slight coffee/chocolate like bitterness to it.
A bit more grown up and assertive than the ancho, the two are often paired together. The Guajillo pepper is a bit smoky, spicier than an ancho and a bit less complex in taste.
The chipotle is a red ripe jalapeno, smoke dried over mesquite, and either sold dried or pickled in an adobe sauce and canned. The chipotle is a fairly spicy chili, and also quite smoky, and when used in dishes gives a pungent punch of sweet spicy smoke. Used in just about anything, especially salsas, and smoky tomato based sauces.
Pretty spicy, the passilla chili gives an incredible complex and lingering taste to table sauces and salsa. A bit acidic, and not at all sweet in taste.
All chilis are best toasted in a hot comal before purées and re searing in hot oil. Although dried, fresher dried chilis are better than very old, and all of these peppers can be found in better Latino groceries and through mail order or internet order.
Once you learn how to prepare and appreciate the complex diversity of Mexican chilis, you'll be hooked for life!
De arbol chili
A very hot reddish dried chili. The taste of a purée of dried arbol peppers is pretty much a straightforward dried chili taste, and will be very spicy. Spicy table sauces are made with this chili, as are salsas.
If ordering dried chili, try to support local farmers if at all possible!
More Mexican Cooking Ideas
- How to Fry Corn Tortilla Chips. The Little Things (L...
Homemade corn tortilla chips are seriously easy to make, and since they only take about 5 minutes to prepare, they are a great snack surprise for hungry friends and family.
- How to Make Queso Fundido. An Appetizer of Mexican M...
A glorious Mexican melted cheese appetizer! Queso fundido is a restaurant staple that you can and should make at home. Easy instructions and tips.
- How to Make Shrimp and Bacon Flautas. An Easy and Ve...
Shrimp and bacon flautas - a very easy crispy fried Mexican meal. Quick recipe and clear instructions.
- How to Make Mexican Chicken Flautas. An Easy Mexican...
The most famous Mexican dishes, served everywhere in restaurants outside of Mexico - are almost never served in restaurants inside of Mexico. What many of us know as Mexican food (tacos, enchiladas etc.) is...
- Homemade Mexican crema. This Mexican sour cream is e...
Learn how to make authentic Mexican sour cream (Mexican crema) at home. Easy tips and steps for homemade Mexican sourcream!
- Beef and Potato Flautas. An Easy Mexican Meal for Be...
Forget about boring leftovers and transform yesterday's beef stew or pot roast into spicy Mexican beef and potato flautas. It's easy and delicious!
More by this Author
Crunchy Chimichangas are fantastic. Take that restaurant favorite home with this easy recipe and intructions for chicken chimichangas.
Make your own taco seasoning - it tastes better and this recipe calls for ingredients you probably already have in your spice rack at home!
A lot of people have trouble with meat. They like the idea of a great steak, and they have a general notion that the more expensive the steak, the better it is…but more than that…who knows?! I...