The pepper playground is large and varied. There are a myriad of choices, each one with the ability to add unique flavor and varying intensities of heat.
Once you apply cooking techniques, their dimensions multiply. Qualities like smokiness and sweetness emerge to add irresistible depth of flavor.
The first step in learning how to use them is to play with them. Only then can you truly grasp their potential. Interact with the peppers on the right to discover the many twists and turns peppers can take—and how they can give your tastebuds a ride in your next creation.
Exploring The Pepper Playground
With a sweet and spicy prune flavor, anchos are typically steeped in hot water and used in lighter flavored salsas. They can also be dry toasted, which adds notes that are welcomed in salsas, sauces, braises and soups. Frying or steeping them in oil changes the flavor dramatically to become more chocolatey, leather and earthy for deeper, richer flavor.
Big on heat and small in flavor, cayenne is used mostly for adding a punch of heat to virtually anything. You’ll typically find it as the main source of heat in hot sauces.
Enjoy a smoky heat with this versatile pepper. It can be used raw or dry toasted and simmered in a sauce or braise or marinade. It is commonly used in adobo sauce and is popular in salsas.
A popular pepper for extreme heat seekers, ghost peppers deliver an intense, fruity chili flavor. After a few seconds, the heat comes in. Used raw, sweated or dried, they pack a punch in noodles, chips, dressings, salsas and soups.
Guajillos are similar to anchos but with less sweetness and the addition of subtle leather notes. They can be used much the same way—steeped in water or oil, dry toasted or fried—for use in salsas, sauces, braises and soups.
Bright, fruity notes with a slight sweetness make raw habaneros perfect for salsas, fruit salsas and dressing. Steeping them in stews, sauces and simmering liquids does not change their raw flavor profile. For new dimensions try charring them for salsas and marinades.
7. Jalapeño & Serrano
These popular peppers feature green notes, can vary slightly in heat and are interchangeable with each other.
When raw, they add a signature kick to salsas, salads, compotes, noodle dishes and sandwiches. Sweated in fat, the vegetal flavor subsides, making way for sweeter flavors that add character to stews, soups, salsa, rice dishes and braises. Frying creates a balance between raw and sweated flavors and charring maintains the vegetal quality while adding smoky, burned and acrid flavors.
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