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Pequin Chile Peppers
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Pequin chile peppers are very small, short, and squat pods, averaging only 2 to 4 centimeters in length, and have an oval, elongated shape that slightly tapers to a point on the non-stem end. The skin may appear smooth to somewhat wrinkled and ripens from green to bright red when mature. Underneath the surface, the medium-thick flesh is crisp, aqueous, and pale green to red, encasing a central cavity filled with membranes and a few round and flat, cream-colored seeds. Pequin chile peppers have a fruity, nutty, citrusy, and smoky flavor mixed with a moderate to hot level of spice that burns on the front of the tongue but dissipates quickly.
Pequin chile peppers are available in the summer through fall.
Pequin chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are small, spicy pods that grow upright towards the sky and belong to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Also spelled Piquin, Pequin chile peppers are native to Mexico, and the name Pequin comes from the Spanish word “pequino,” meaning “little.” Pequin chile peppers are considered a moderately hot variety, ranging 40,000-60,000 SHU on the Scoville scale, and the peppers are most often found dried in commercial markets for use as a spice. Fresh versions of the peppers are seasonal in markets and are commonly sold in their immature, green state in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. It is also important to note that Pequin chile peppers are often confused for a wild variety known as the chiltepin, which is grown in the same region as the Pequin and looks similar in size but has a rounder shape. Both peppers are commonly referred to as bird peppers due to the fondness birds seem to have for consuming the small peppers, but they are considered two distinct varieties and are not the same pepper.
Pequin chile peppers are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as beta-carotene and potassium. The small peppers also contain large amounts of iron, magnesium, and capsaicin, which is a chemical compound that is responsible for the burning sensation in the mouth. This compound is a beneficial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Pequin chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as stir-frying, sautéing, and simmering. When raw, the peppers are used in their green, immature state and can be minced into dressings, marinades, and sauces, or they can be diced into fresh salsas. Pequin chile peppers can also be used to flavor soups, stews, and chilis, lightly stir-fried with other vegetables to add a spicy flavor, or infused into rice, noodle, and bean dishes. In addition to fresh applications, Pequin chile peppers can be pickled for extended use, dried and crushed into flakes to sprinkle over cooked meats, pasta, or pizza, or cooked and infused into finishing oils. Pequin chile peppers pair well with cheeses such as ricotta, cuajada, queso fresco, and Monterey Jack, meats such as beef, pork, poultry, and fish, corn, legumes, potatoes, tomatoes, herbs such as cilantro and oregano, lime, onions, and garlic. Fresh peppers will keep up to one week when stored whole and unwashed in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Pequin chile peppers are one of two chile varieties used to make Cholula, a popular hot sauce from Mexico. The hot sauce is rumored to have been developed from a recipe created over 100 years ago in Mexico, and the sauce is named for the oldest city in North America, Cholula, which has been inhabited for 2,500 years. Cholula was first created in Chapala, Mexico, and was exported to the United States in 1989. The sauce has gained worldwide notoriety for its savory, mildly spicy, and tangy taste, and has been used as a flavor enhancer on pizza, popcorn, soups, tacos, and eggs. Pequin chile peppers are mixed with arbol peppers, spices, onions, and garlic to make the tangy sauce, but the spice content of the Pequin pepper is somewhat neutralized to create a mildly spiced sauce. Cholula hot sauce is also famous for its use as a flavoring over tater tots and burgers at Major League baseball games.
Pequin chile peppers are native to Mexico and are descendants of peppers originally from Central and South America. As the original pepper varieties were carried into Mexico via migrating peoples, the plants were bred for select traits, creating new varieties like Pequin chile peppers. These peppers have been in existence since ancient times and are still found growing wild in the mountains of northern Mexico. Today Pequin chile peppers are cultivated in Mexico and the southern United States. Fresh peppers can be found at local markets or through online seed catalogs for home garden use. Pequin chile peppers are also dried and either sold as a seasoning in specialty stores or in a variety of products from pastes, chile flakes, and hot sauces.
Recipes that include Pequin Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Mexico in My Kitchen||Piquin Pepper Salsa|
|Sweet Life||Chile PequÃn en Escabeche â€“ Pickled PequÃns|
|Houstonia Magazine||Chile Pequin Vinegar|
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