In the American Southwest, chiles are renowned for their fiery kick, and Hatch chiles are no exception. However, their widespread popularity often leads to confusion with other types of green chiles. Because green chiles are so diverse, they have distinct names in different places. This can be intimidating when you’re looking for a specific pepper to spice up your cooking. Understanding the most popular fresh chiles and their aliases might help you get the right one for your recipe.
If you’re worried about the level of spiciness in your dishes, conferring the Scoville Heat Scale can be quite handy. This scale gives a complete breakdown of chile pepper heat levels, helping you tailor recipes to your preferred level.
So, this is why we are comparing 7 types of Mexican green chiles.
This pepper is called chile verde del Norte in Mexico since it’s prevalent up north but not down south. It’s also widely used in the southwestern United States.
These are long, bright green chiles that were brought from New Mexico to California in the early 1900s. To appeal to northern Americans, they were purposefully softer. Both Anaheim and California’s names are used to refer to these chiles, which became popular there.
These chiles are unique in that they have the same name whether fresh or dried. Choose Anaheim or California peppers for recipes that require fresh green or red-dried chilies. Keep in mind that even though these green chiles are relatively mild, their level of spiciness can vary.
A slow-cooked Mexican pozole with pork is a tasty way to use Anaheim chiles.
Chilaca green chilies are like New Mexico peppers but come in different colors, ranging from green to brown. They’re commonly used in Mexican cooking, often as dried pasilla chilies. Also, you can use dried chilacas in recipes that call for dried red chilies, like a Mexican beef stew called chili colorado.
New Mexico/Hatch Chiles
These long green chiles closely resemble California and Anaheim peppers, but there’s one key difference – they pack a much hotter punch.
Hatch chiles are a variety of New Mexico chiles that thrive in the small town of Hatch New Mexico, and are celebrated as high-quality green chiles. Every year, they host the Hatch Valley Chile Festival on Labor Day weekend, drawing around 30,000 visitors to the town who come to savor and purchase these delectable peppers.
In Mexican regions, these chilies are called chile verde del norte, primarily known in the northern parts. Hatch and New Mexico chiles can be used in similar dishes as California and Anaheim chiles, but be aware of their significantly spicier nature.
Do you have a penchant for spiciness? You might just find a new favorite in a pollo verde made with Hatch chilies.
Poblano Green Chiles
Named after Puebla, Mexico, this pepper boasts a deep, lush green hue and a broader profile compared to the Anaheim chile. Further, it typically packs more heat than the Anaheim, although its spiciness can vary, ranging from mild to quite hot.
Moreover, Poblanos find their way into various Mexican dishes and are particularly loved for making chiles rellenos and chiles en nogada. When these chiles are dried, they transform into ancho chiles. Moreover, it’s worth noting that in the United States, some vendors mistakenly label poblanos as “pasilla” peppers, while others misspell them as “pablano.”
Jalapeno peppers, pronounced hah-lah-PEN-yoe, are famous both in and outside of Mexico. They derive their name from Xalapa, also spelled Jalapa, in the state of Veracruz.
People commonly use jalapenos as a condiment, fresh or pickled, whole or chopped. You can also stuff and serve them as an appetizer, such as jalapeno poppers. When dried and smoked, jalapenos transform into chipotle chiles, which have a distinctly different flavor.
Serrano peppers are smaller and thinner than jalapeños, offering quite a bit of heat. Further, they’re usually used to add spiciness and flavor to salsas and dishes rather than being the main ingredient. You can roast them or chop them up when fresh (with or without the seeds) to sprinkle on dishes as a seasoning for extra heat and flavor. The dried form, known as dried serrano or serrano seco, is not very common.
Start your day with a zesty kick by enjoying Machaca con huevos, a Mexican beef and egg dish seasoned with these spicy chilies.
Habanero chiles, pronounced ah-bah-NEH-roh, are some of the spiciest peppers around. Also, they come in various colors like green, yellow, orange, red, and sometimes even purple or brown. These are a staple in the regional cuisines of the Yucatan Peninsula – often used to add heat and flavor to sauces and salsas, such as mango habanero hot sauce.
Apart from the obvious color difference, these two chile types might share more similarities than expected. In reality, red Hatch chiles are just green ones left to ripen longer on the vine.
During late summer and early fall, you can smell the aroma of freshly roasted green Hatch chiles in New Mexico right when they’re picked. As for the red variety, you’ll find it in many dishes during the fall, winter, and early part of the next year because, like the green Hatch chile, it’s a seasonal ingredient.
In October, you can observe a shift happening on the vine as the chiles change from green to red. It not only changes color but also alters the flavor. Fresh green Hatch chiles are often roasted, bringing out their savory, earthy taste and meaty texture. In contrast, red Hatch chiles have a spicier flavor than green ones. They are typically dried for preservation or processed into powders and sauces.
Moreover, the transition from green to red signifies the approaching holiday season – keep an eye out for ristras that will soon start appearing! Ristras are a vibrant and decorative way to hang and dry the chiles for later use.
You probably know the differences better now and are ready to get some of the chiles for your dishes right away. Well, that’s good. But make sure you actually get good quality chiles, and one of the few ways to make sure of that is to buy from Made in New Mexico. What are you waiting for?