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Thursday, June 3, 2010

A hot Mexican

You might think I am talking about me, but this is not the right site for that so I rather talk about a real "hot Mexican" I know. El chile (chili pepper)

Here in Toronto, Canada. The popularity of Mexican cuisine is flourishing rapidly and so is the arrival to Kensington Market of more and more Mexican produce and products, mainly from the states. We can now find a variety of chiles both frescos and secos (fresh and dry)as well as many other goodies. The Mexican market is still growing here and so is the Mexican community. Soon we will be able to find a greater selection of hard or impossible to find ingredients

I will be giving a brief description of the chiles as I include them in my recipes.

Make sure that there is no deterioration in the form of wrinkles, dark patches, mold or softness.
if you are not going to use them right away, wrap them in two layers of paper towel and then in a plastic bap; in this way they will not dry out. Even then they will not last long, a week in average without loosing flavour and texture.

I believe that jalapenos are perhaps the best-known chile outside of Mexico since much of the crop is pickled and canned. there is a great variety of this chile, but their shape is unmistakable; like an elongated, blunt triangle varying from mid to dark green, some with dark patches on them, other with a vertical brown line as if they were wearing striped pants. The chile jalapeno is called by different names depending on the type and season in which they are harvested or just the local usage: chile gordo in Veracruz, chilchote in the Sierra de Puebla, or tomachile in old cookbooks, cuaresmeno in Central Mexico. An average chile jalapeno is 2 1/2 inches long and just under 1 inch wide; it can range from hot to very hot it measures 2,500- 10,00 Scoville units, it is used either in its mature but green stage or when fully ripened and red in color.

Good-quality jalapeno pepper should be firm to the touch, smooth-skinned and have green solid coloring, the stem should be bright green. Dry lines they are not a blemish. They are sings of mature pepper and indicate hotness.

Avoid product that is soft, bruised, has wrinkled skin or spots of mold. When dull and wrinkled, they have lost their fresh flavor or crisp texture

Jalapeno peppers are available year-round

The jalapeno gets its name from Xalapa, a town in Veracruz Mexico, where it has been grown for centuries.

A chipotle, is just a jalapeno that has been smoked and cooked in adobo sauce

If you don`t like the heat in peppers but like the raw taste of them. Remove the veins and the seeds will take away some of the heat

The name serrano or verde for this chile seems to be in general use throughout Mexico with the minor exception of the Sierra de Puebla, where it is often referred to as tampiqueno.

It is a small mid to dark green chile, depending on the variety of seed used, that ripens to bright red. The new varieties tend toward a lighter color and larger size about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. while the chile serrano tends to be a darker green, more pointed at the tip, and smaller in size, an average one being 1 to 1 1/2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide
they all have shinny smooth skin and can range from hot to very hot. They are generally preferred for fresh or cooked sauces in their mature but green stage, they are still used when very ripe and red.

Because you don`t have to char, steam or core this thin-skinned chile, just cut it into thin slices and mince it, it is the fastest one to use for salsas. The flavor is bright and biting with a delayed fuse

Serrano chile is smaller and hotter than jalapeno. The serrano life`s cycle resembles a leaf`s: these small, skinny, pointy chiles are about five times hotter than jalapenos

Thick flesh do not dry well. Crisp, fresh flavor. It is one of the hottest peppers commonly available here in Toronto, with a Scoville heat units of 7,000-25,000

Most common uses are table sauces, guacamole, relishes, vegetable dishes, seasoning and garnish

The word serrano comes from the Spanish "serranias" meaning "foothills", the serrano is believed to have originated in the foothills of Puebla in Mexico.

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