Red Arbol Chile Peppers
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The Arbol chile pepper is green when young then ripens to a vibrant red hue when mature, a color that the pepper will maintain even when dried. Shaped similar to a Cayenne chile, but smaller, this chile grows on a large plant that forms a multi-branching treelike shape. Considered to be a hot chile, this two to three-inch chile's heat offers a distinctive robust flavor with medium-hot pungency ranging between 15,000 and 30,000 Scoville units. Thin-fleshed, the Arbol chile has a smoky, tannic, grassy flavor with a lively acidic, penetrating heat, a flavor that becomes more pronounced once this chile pepper is dried or toasted.
Red Arbol chile peppers are available year-round.
Botanically a member of Capsicum annuum the Red Arbol chile pepper is most commonly known as chile de Arbol and also as Rat’s Tail and Bird’s Beak chile. A member of the nightshade family along with a look alike pepper the Cayenne, the Arbol chile is distinguishable by its long stem which turns to a woody brown hue when dried. While Arbol chlies can occasionally be found fresh they are most commonly today utilized in their dried or powdered form.
Red Arbol chile peppers are a versatile chile and can be utilized in their fresh, cooked, dried and powdered form. They can be roasted or toasted to heighten their smoky flavor then used to enhance a variety of dishes such as curries, stews, sauces, salsas and mole. Their flavor profile and spice are widely used in southwestern, Thai and Mexican cuisine. They are a popular pepper for use in salsas and hot sauce production. Their thin skin makes them a poor choice for pickling however when dried they can be added to vinegars and oil to add flavor and heat. In Mexican cuisine they are commonly fried whole and served alongside beans and rice or street tacos. Their flavor marries well with tomato, vinegar, roasted garlic, peanut, onion, refried beans, tomatillos, chocolate, avocado, queso fresco, roast poultry, shrimp, cilantro and mango.
The chile de Arbol is a popular chile for use in decorative arrangements created in the southwestern United States known as ristras. The peppers are strung together into wreaths and pillars then are hung at the front of a house as decoration and to attract good fortune. They also can be displayed in the kitchen and the dried chilies utilized as a spice.
The Arbol chile pepper is native to the Mexican states of Jalisco, Chihuahua and Oaxaca. In Spanish their name translates to mean “tree like” and is a nod to the tall tree like plants the pepper grows on. Today they are grown around the world thriving in warm, frost free climates.
Recipes that include Red Arbol Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.