South-of-the Border Essentials: Chili Paste
Andy Anderson !
It is easy/peasy to make and I usually whip up a batch using chilies that match the recipe that I am working on.
FYI: The main image is some Mexican BBQ Ribs, using this chili paste in the sauce recipe. So yummy.
So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.
2 ozdried chilies, more on this later
3 clovebaked garlic
1 largelime, just the juice
2 tspsugar, white granular
1/2 tspsalt, kosher variety, fine grind
1/4 tspground cumin
·water as needed
1 Tbspolive oil, extra virgin variety
1/2 tspbalsamic vinegar
How to Make South-of-the Border Essentials: Chili Paste
- Storage of homemade condiments and spices
Because homemade spices and condiments do not contain any preservatives, it is important to store them properly. Non-reactive (glass) containers with tight-fitting lids are a must. If I am making a dry spice, I love to use old spice bottles that I have run through the dishwasher.
If I am doing homemade sauces, I love using Weck jars. They are all glass, come in all sizes and shapes, and have excellent leakproof lids. If you shop online, you can go to Amazon, and type in “Weck Jars” and you will find a ton of them.
Dry spices should be kept in a cool space, away from sunlight (spice cabinet), and sauces, in most cases, should be stored in the fridge.
If properly stored, this chili paste should last 4 - 6 weeks.
- Baked Garlic
I love what baking does to garlic… it mellows the flavor and creates an awesome ingredient that enhances so many diverse dishes. I use it so much in catering that I usually bake 15 or more heads of garlic at a time, and then save them for when needed.
If you do not wish to use baked garlic, you can use regular minced cloves, but cut the amount in half.
Here is the recipe that I use… it is easy/peasy:
Cooking Essentials: Baked Garlic
- Chili Peppers
The peppers you choose will determine the overall heat and flavor of your chili paste. To help you out, I have compiled a list of chili peppers; along with their flavor and heat level, measured in Scoville units. Consider this list a work in progress.
You will notice that Bell Peppers (the first on the list), have no heat at all, while the Scorpion Chilies are up to 800,000.
I tried some Scorpions once in a chili paste and woke up at hospital two days later and could not remember my name :-)
Keep in mind, when you get into chilies this hot, a very little goes a looooong way. You have been warned.
This recipe calls for 2 ounces (50g) of chilies, and while that may not seem like a lot, remember we are using dried chilies, and they do not weigh very much. As a matter of fact, after processed you should have 7 – 8 ounces of chili paste.
As for working with most peppers, gloves are recommended.
Bell Peppers, earthy flavor
Aji Paprika, mild, earthy
Up to 500
Aji Panca, mild and fruity, poblano-esque
Red Anaheim-sweet, fresh form of New Mexico Chilies
Mulato, chocolate/licorice-like flavor
Organic New Mexico, dried red Anaheim peppers
New Mexico, dried red Anaheim peppers
Organic Aji Panca, mild and fruity, poblano-esque
Green Anaheim, immature fresh New Mexico Chilies
Ancho, dried poblanos
Pasilla Negro, good in moles
Guajillo, mild flavor, some heat
Jalapeño, some heat, grassy-earthy flavor
Red Fresno, good in sauces & soups
Puya, similar flavor to Guajillo, spicy
Organic Chipotle Morita, smoked, dried Jalapeño
Yellow Caribe, great baked or in soups
Aji Amarillo, essential in Peruvian food
(continued in next step)
- Brown (Meco) Chipotle. smoky & spicy
Chipotle Morita, smoked, dried Jalapeño
Urfa Biber, sweet, citrusy & smoky
Cascabel-round, with seeds that rattle
(continued in next step)
Smoked Serrano, savory, not fruity heat
De Arbol, similar to cayenne
Japones, medium-strength Asian chile
Organic Aji Amarillo, essential in Peruvian food
Pequinspicy, hint of citrus, sweetness
Aji Limo Rojo, organic, slightly sweet, crisp
Tepin, powerful but brief heat
Fresh Thai, available red or green
Dried Thai, used in Thai, Chinese cooking
Aji Cereza, milder substitute for Habaneros
Habanero, very hot, fruity/floral flavor
Organic Habaner, overly hot, fruity/floral flavor
Scotch Bonnet Chilies, similar heat to Habanero
Ghost Chilies, very hot, slight smokiness
Scorpion Chilies, incredibly hot
Up to 800,000
- Where is the Heat?
If you want less heat, a lot of chefs will instruct you to remove the seeds from the pepper(s).
In saying that they are implying the seeds are the source of the fire. Understand that removing the seeds will help a bit; however, they are not where the “real” heat of a pepper resides.
The truth is, a pepper’s intensity originates from the pith (membrane) and the ribs, not the seeds.
Capsaicin, which is the chemical compound that holds all that fiery heat, is concentrated in the inner membrane of white pith and the ribs.
The reason removing the seeds lowers the heat a bit, is simply because the seeds are in contact with the membrane, and some of the capsaicin rubs off. But the seeds do not contain any capsaicin of their own; hence, no heat.
So, if you really want to tame the beast, go ahead and remove the seeds, but do not forget to scrape out the membrane, and cut out the ribs.
Note on dry peppers: You can remove the seeds and cut out the ribs (I use a pair of kitchen shears), but it is almost impossible to remove the membrane, simply because it has dried and attached itself to the wall of the pepper.
Removing the membrane is more for working with fresh peppers.
- Use in all things South-of-the Border. Enjoy.