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Chile – A fundamental ingredient in Mexican food

When it comes to Mexican food, usually the first flavor that comes to mind is spice. Just like the Tortilla, the chile or chili pepper is a staple in Mexican cuisine. With over 60 varieties — ranging from mild to extremely hot  traditionally used in Mexican cuisine, it is safe to say that nearly all Mexican food is cooked with a type of chile.

The following are some types of the most commonly used chiles:

Chile de Arbol

Bright red color when mature, these chili peppers can be found fresh, dried, or powdered. These are the chillies usually found in decorate wreaths because they do not lose their red color after dehydration (Wikipedia).

Habanero Chili

The Habanero Chili is sometimes spelled and pronounced habañero in the US.This variety has a citrus-like flavor and is intensely hot.

Chile Poblano (Ancho)

The Poblano is one of the most popular chili peppers grown in Mexico. It’s mild flavor makes it perfect to use in the “Chile Relleno” recipe When dried, it’s name becomes “Chile Ancho” which means “wide chili” in Spanish.

Chile Serrano

Serrano gets it’s name from the area in the north “sierra” lands in Mexico; between the states of Puebla and Hidalgo. This chili pepper is commonly used in “Pico de Gallo,” a salsa made with chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro and chili.

Chile Jalapeño

Its name comes from the Mexican city of Xalapa, Veracruz. It is often paired with carrots and pickled. It’s also used for cooked and raw salsas.

Chile Manzano

This chili is extremely hot and similar in shape and color to the habanero pepper.  but it is unusual in that it has black seeds. Its common name in South America is “Rocoto pepper.”

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