Usually, when I think about dried peppers, a rich stew dish comes to mind, but most people that are not familiar with dried peppers will think that they are spicy hot. In reality, many of the dried peppers are mild in heat, and add a lot of distinctive flavors and aromas to salsas, stews, and many other dishes
Last week, I wrote about some of the popular and most commonly used dried peppers in our Mexican cuisine. Today, I’m showcasing 4 more peppers that, although also popular, are used less often, except in some specific regions in Mexico. Take the Morita pepper, for example: it is commonly found in table sauces in some areas of Puebla and Veracruz.
I keep these peppers in my kitchen for those dishes and salsas that require them, but if for some reason I don’t use them after 6-8 months, I prefer to go to the store and buy a new batch. Remember that even though you might store them well, the peppers can still lose their flavor and become crumbly with time.
Also, remember that the best way to bring out all those flavors is to toast the peppers before adding them to a sauce or dish. Just be careful when toasting the peppers, as some will have skins that are thicker or thinner than others, and this will affect the toasting time needed. Keep an eye on the peppers’ change in color, and remove them from the skillet when they start releasing their aromas.
I hope that this information was helpful to you, and don’t forget to leave your questions about these or other peppers in the comments section.
Morita peppers are similar in shape to a Chipotle pepper, but have a darker shiny color, are smaller in size, and have a unique fruity flavor. They measure about 1½ inches in length and 2/3 inches in width. They are also called “Chipotle Mora” or “Red Chipotle”, due to their deep, vibrant color.
Although Morita peppers are smoked like chipotle peppers, the smoking process for them is shorter. If a recipe asks for Morita peppers and you don’t have any available, you can use Chipotle, instead. Use one Chipotle pepper for every two Morita peppers required.
SCOVILLE RATING: 5,000 – 8,000, and up to 10,000).
You can use Morita peppers to make salsas and to add a little bit of flavor and heat to stews. They are popularly used to make some versions of Salsa Macha.
The Pasilla is a long and narrow pepper that measures about 6-9 inches long. It has a wrinkled skin and a very dark color, almost black. It is commonly found all over Mexico, and when it’s fresh, it is the Chilaca pepper. Other names for the Pasilla pepper include “Chile Mixe” and “Chile Negro”.
The Pasilla pepper is called “Pasilla” because its dark and wrinkly skin resembles that of prunes or raisins, which in Mexico are called “ciruelas pasas” and “pasitas”, respectively. The Pasilla pepper is mild in heat but has a lot of flavor, almost fruity and smoky at the same time. I like to use Pasilla in salsas or stews that have a combination of tomatoes and tomatillos. The Pasilla pepper is also used to make Mole Poblano. Additionally, I make a stew with chicharrones (pork cracklings) that has a salsa made with just Pasilla peppers, garlic, and water. This pepper is also used along with pulque to make the popular “Salsa Boracha”, or “drunken salsa”.
It is important to note that there is also another pepper called “Pasilla”, the Pasilla pepper from Oaxaca (also called “Pasilla de Oaxaca”), which is smaller and has a reddish color. It is usually only found in Oaxaca, although I know that more and more of these different peppers are slowly appearing in some specialty stores here in the US.
SCOVILLE RATING: 1,000 – 2,500
These pointy peppers are spicy hot, making them great for salsas for tacos. They look like a smaller version of Guajillo peppers, and measure about 2 – 2½ inches in length and ½ – ¾ inches in width. They are used to add heat to stews or salsas; first they are roasted and then soaked in water before blending into a sauce. Puya peppers are often used in combination with Guajillo peppers. If you like really hot salsa, check out this recipe for Puya Salsa.
SCOVILLE RATING: 5,000-8,000
Last, but not least, we have the Cascabel pepper. This beautiful round pepper measures about 1 – 1½ inches in diameter and has a reddish-brown color. Cascabel peppers are very typical in Central Mexico, where they are used in salsas and sometimes added to stews. They have a mild and slightly sweet flavor.
The name “cascabel” (meaning “rattle”, or “jingle bell”) comes from the sound made by the loose seeds inside when you shake the pepper. I wrote a guest post recipe using Cascabel peppers for my friend Douglas, from the blog Mexican Food Journal, go check it out! Cascabel Salsa.
SCOVILLE RATING: 1,300-2,000
There are many other peppers in our gastronomy this is just a small sample of them. Enjoy!
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