Even though they think these hot peppers are called “chilies,” Lucky Peach — “a quarterly journal of food and writing” — still created a cool guide to the chiles of Mexico featuring gorgeous animated GIFs by Serafine Frey.
Meet the ANCHO family, according to writers Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman:
Dark brown and triangular in shape, ancho chilies are actually just dried, fully ripe poblano chilies. They taste tangy, like dried fruit with a slight green note, and while they are generally not that spicy, you’ll occasionally find an angry one in the litter. Along with guajillos, anchos are one of the workhorse chilies of the Mexican kitchen: abundant, inexpensive, and ubiquitous in many traditional recipes.
And the ARBOLS:
Small — about two or three inches long—smooth-skinned and slender, chilies de árbol are often used in thin “hot sauce”-style salsas, or are toasted until crisp and ground into powder. They have the bright, vegetal flavor of a bell pepper with none of the sweetness, and they’re hot as hell. It takes some finesse to tame the burn of these things and perceive their other flavors: seeding, toasting, and soaking the chilies helps, but they’ll never be anything close to mild, no matter what you do. Árbols are always sold dried; I’ve never seen them fresh in the United States. When you’re shopping, you want to see bright red skin; if they have become brownish, they are showing their age. Also, be careful not to confuse árbols with Thai bird’s-eye chilies, which look similar but have a totally different profile.
Our friends the JALAPEÑOS:
The most commonly known chile outside of Mexico, spicy jalapeños are typically about two or three inches in length and have a bright green, grassy flavor. They are named after Xalapa, Veracruz, the region of Mexico where they were originally cultivated. When jalapeños are smoke-dried, they are known as chipotles, but they are also delicious raw, roasted, or pickled. Try charring them and stuffing them with cheese, breading them, and then deep-frying them. I invented this. I call it a jalapeño popper.
More chiles and chile GIFs at Lucky Peach….