South-of-the Border Essentials: Chili Paste

22
Andy Anderson !

By
@ThePretentiousChef

Chili paste is a staple of most good South-of-the-Border recipes. You can buy it in a jar, but what fun is that? By making your own, you get to choose the peppers you want and, at the same time, eliminate all those nasty preservatives.

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.

Rating:

☆☆☆☆☆ 0 votes

Comments:
Serves:
Several
Prep:
30 Min
Cook:
5 Min
Method:
Stove Top

Ingredients

  • PLAN/PURCHASE

  • 2 oz
    dried chilies, more on this later
  • 3 clove
    baked garlic
  • 1 large
    lime, just the juice
  • 2 tsp
    sugar, white granular
  • 1/2 tsp
    salt, kosher variety, fine grind
  • 1/4 tsp
    ground cumin
  • ·
    water as needed
  • ADDITIONAL ITEMS

  • 1 Tbsp
    olive oil, extra virgin variety
  • 1/2 tsp
    balsamic vinegar

How to Make South-of-the Border Essentials: Chili Paste

Step-by-Step

  1. PREP/PREPARE
  2. You will need a saucepan, and blender to make this recipe. The blender can be a regular blender, stick blender, or a food processor fitted with an S-Blade.

    You could, of course, go "old school" and use a mortar and pestle, but that seems like a lot of work.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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
    0

    Aji Paprika, mild, earthy
    Up to 500

    Pepperoncini
    100-500

    Aji Panca, mild and fruity, poblano-esque
    500-1,500

    Red Anaheim-sweet, fresh form of New Mexico Chilies
    500-1,500

    Poblano
    500-2,500

    Mulato, chocolate/licorice-like flavor
    500-2,500

    Organic New Mexico, dried red Anaheim peppers
    500-2,500

    New Mexico, dried red Anaheim peppers
    750-1,250

    Organic Aji Panca, mild and fruity, poblano-esque
    1,000-1,500

    Green Anaheim, immature fresh New Mexico Chilies
    1,000-1,500

    Ancho, dried poblanos
    1,000-1,500

    Pasilla Negro, good in moles
    1,000-2,000

    Guajillo, mild flavor, some heat
    2,500-5,000

    Jalapeño, some heat, grassy-earthy flavor
    2,500-8,000

    Red Fresno, good in sauces & soups
    2,500-10,000

    Puya, similar flavor to Guajillo, spicy
    5,000-8,000

    Organic Chipotle Morita, smoked, dried Jalapeño
    5,000-10,000

    Yellow Caribe, great baked or in soups
    5,000-15,000

    Aji Amarillo, essential in Peruvian food
    5,000-25,000

    (continued in next step)
  6. Brown (Meco) Chipotle. smoky & spicy
    7,000-18,000

    Chipotle Morita, smoked, dried Jalapeño
    7,000-25,000

    Urfa Biber, sweet, citrusy & smoky
    7,500

    Cascabel-round, with seeds that rattle
    8,000-12,000

    (continued in next step)
    Smoked Serrano, savory, not fruity heat
    8,000-22,000

    De Arbol, similar to cayenne
    15,000-30,000

    Japones, medium-strength Asian chile
    15,000-36,000

    Organic Aji Amarillo, essential in Peruvian food
    40,000-50,000

    Pequinspicy, hint of citrus, sweetness
    40,000-50,000

    Aji Limo Rojo, organic, slightly sweet, crisp
    50,000-60,000

    Tepin, powerful but brief heat
    50,000-70,000

    Fresh Thai, available red or green
    ~50,000-100,000

    Dried Thai, used in Thai, Chinese cooking
    50,000-100,000

    Aji Cereza, milder substitute for Habaneros
    70,000-80,000

    Habanero, very hot, fruity/floral flavor
    100,000-200,000

    Organic Habaner, overly hot, fruity/floral flavor
    100,000-300,000

    Scotch Bonnet Chilies, similar heat to Habanero
    75,000-325,000

    Ghost Chilies, very hot, slight smokiness
    300,000-400,000

    Scorpion Chilies, incredibly hot
    Up to 800,000
  7. 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.
  8. Gather your ingredients (mise en place).
  9. Cut off the top of the peppers and shake out the seeds. Removing the ribs is up to you.
    Cut or tear them up, place into a bowl
  10. Pour boiling water over them until they are covered.
  11. Let them steep for 15 – 20 minutes.
  12. Drain them using a colander but save the water in a bowl and reserve.
  13. Add them to your blender, then add all the other Chili Paste ingredients.
  14. Give them a few 1-second bursts, then start adding the reserved chili water, about a tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. I wound up adding about 4 tablespoons of water.
  15. Some chefs like their chili paste thick, almost like a tomato paste; however, I like mine almost pourable. Up to you.
  16. Add the olive oil to a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  17. When the oil heats up, add the chili paste, and stir constantly for about 5 minutes.
  18. Stir in the scant 1/2 teaspoon of balsamic, remove from heat, then allow to cool.
  19. Store in a suitable container (see notes of proper storage above), and place in the fridge until needed.
  20. These are the chilies I used for this batch of Mexican BBQ ribs (pictured at the top).

    They gave the brisket a mild heat with a hint of smoke.
  21. PLATE/PRESENT
  22. Use in all things South-of-the Border. Enjoy.
  23. Keep the faith, and keep cooking.

Printable Recipe Card

About South-of-the Border Essentials: Chili Paste

Course/Dish: Other Sauces
Main Ingredient: Vegetable
Regional Style: Mexican
Other Tag: Quick & Easy



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