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View Full Version : Can someone from the SouthWest explain green vs red chiles to me


dasmoocher
03-30-2014, 06:27 PM
I'm from the Mid-Atlantic, and this has the potential to blow up in my face like Yankees vs Mets.

F*ck them both.., go O's.

D'oh, make that Green, mods...

dasmoocher
03-30-2014, 06:40 PM
I guess I should add that the choice appears to be a lifestyle defining event down here--NM.

silenus
03-30-2014, 06:48 PM
Well, yeah (http://youtube.com/watch?v=AcBTOU7RvbU).

cormac262
03-30-2014, 06:49 PM
I spent a good deal of time in Santa Fe. And "red or green ?" seems to be asked with everything your order (coffee, donuts, etc. ;-)

At first I thought it was asking "hot or mild", but then I found out that, on any given year, either may be hotter than the other. So that doesn't really fit unless you know, for that year/season, which you would prefer.

There are subtleties in flavor, but for me, the "overall hotness" kind of overshadowed any flavor differences. I suppose for the locals, they can tell the differences, so it is more significant to them.

So in essence, it kind of comes down to appearance. Some people prefer the look of one over the other. (The green tended to look a little slimy to me, so I usually preferred the red).

friedo
03-30-2014, 06:53 PM
The correct answer is always Christmas.

dasmoocher
03-30-2014, 07:01 PM
The correct answer is always Christmas.

Hah! Well played, Sir.

Chronos
03-30-2014, 08:24 PM
Red chilis are ripe, while green ones are unripe. Some varieties are usually picked at one stage or another, but all the red ones started off green, and all the green ones would ripen to some other color (often red, sometimes yellow or some other color like purple) if you left them on the plant. The main difference here is that the red ones will thus be a bit sweeter, though there are other components of flavor and texture that change as well.

And the question "Red or green?" can apply not just to chilis, but to salsas as well. In this case, the distinction may be between the chilies used in the salsa, or it may be a distinction between tomatoes and tomatillos. Those have very different flavors

Trinopus
03-30-2014, 09:26 PM
Like creme-filled cookies: sometimes I want the black, and sometimes the white. Both are darn good!

Are there people who would prefer one to the other, to the degree of refusing one entirely?

Individual tastes, eh? There aren't any "wrong answers." Whatever you don't want, push over in my direction!

pulykamell
03-30-2014, 10:16 PM
I'm not from the SW, but I grow a lot of chiles every year, and, basically, they have different flavors. Think the difference between green pepper and red pepper. The former is "grassier" and the latter is sweeter and "fruitier" in taste. That's it. It doesn't have anything to do with heat level. They just have different flavors, like the difference between a green jalapeño and a red one.

Now, I'll go one further, and relevant to the Southwest. Green chili is always made from fresh green chiles in my experience. Red, though, is usually made with dried red chiles. This also adds a different flavor profile. Dried red chiles have a deep earthy flavor to them that fresh ones don't. Depending on the chile, they can even taste a bit raisin-y or prune-like in their fruitiness, along with a kind of deep, dark spiciness, as opposed to the "bright", slightly bitter fresh herbal/green-ness of green chilis. If that sounds like a whole lot of malarky to you, think the flavor of something like fresh green peppers vs paprika to get into the ballpark of differences. Or, better yet, if you know what a poblano tastes like and what an ancho tastes like, those are the same pepper, the former fresh and green, the latter dried and red.

So, in the end, it's a matter of flavors.

InternetLegend
03-30-2014, 11:49 PM
When you're talking about the choice of sauce, like on an enchilada plate, there's quite a difference between red and green. Red chile is going to be a smooth red sauce, kind of like a hot gravy, and green will be chunky. This is because the red is made with dried, powdered red chiles and green is made with diced roasted peppers. As has been mentioned, which one is hotter is completely dependent on other factors and can vary from batch to batch, so it's best to just ask which one is hotter if that's a deciding factor.

The whole "state question" thing that we've done in New Mexico is kinda stupid, but we're all about defining the place for the tourists, so I'm game. However, you're not stuck with one choice forever. I typically enjoy red with tamales and green on enchiladas. Smothered burritos can go either way, and I feel free to change my mind at any given meal.

I personally think that "Christmas" is a disgusting blend, although it seems to have become really popular in the past decade or so. To me, it's like not being able to choose between pie or cake and deciding to just mash them both together as a compromise. Ick.

mbh
03-31-2014, 11:12 AM
but then I found out that, on any given year, either may be hotter than the other.

"on any given year"? Try, "on any given week". It can vary from one day to the next, depending on their suppliers and their cooks.

First you specify whether you want red or green, then you specify whether you want hot or mild.

Green chile has a slightly bitter undertaste, which I loathe, but which green aficionados tell me is exactly what they love most.

Chronos
03-31-2014, 11:18 AM
I typically enjoy red with tamales and green on enchiladas.
Huh, I would go the other way around on those two, red on enchiladas and green on tamales. Provided both are available, of course: If my preferred sauce isn't available, I'll take the other.

ThisUsernameIsForbidden
03-31-2014, 03:05 PM
Red is sweeter, mellower. Green is more acidic, bitter. Both can be hot.

filmore
03-31-2014, 03:15 PM
You know how grapes and raisins are the same fruit but taste different? It's the same with green and red chile. Red chile is not a different pepper. It's not like bell peppers which grow as red or green separately. Rather, the chile is green as it's growing and turns red as it gets ripe and dries out. The flavor changes as it dries out. Since they have different taste profiles, they may fit better with certain foods, but there is no wrong choice. It's just like wine. Some people will say you can only drink white with fish, but it's fine to drink red if that's what you prefer. My preference is green with chicken and red with pork, but it's pretty good no matter which chile is paired with whatever.

Chronos
03-31-2014, 03:24 PM
Red chile is not a different pepper. It's not like bell peppers which grow as red or green separately.
Bell peppers aren't like that, either.

filmore
03-31-2014, 03:42 PM
Bell peppers aren't like that, either.

Oops. That is correct about the bell peppers. However, red chile is almost always sold in a dried form. It's either found as a powder or as a dried pod which you would grind up yourself.

pulykamell
03-31-2014, 09:02 PM
Oops. That is correct about the bell peppers. However, red chile is almost always sold in a dried form. It's either found as a powder or as a dried pod which you would grind up yourself.

I wouldn't go so far as to say "almost always." (Although this depends on what you mean by "red chile," I suppose. I'm talking any spicy red capsicum.) Plenty of fresh red chiles to be found around here, depending on the grocery store. Any Asian store will always have Thai red chiles, for example. Mexican groceries, depending on the season, may also have fresh red jalapenos, red fresnos, red habaneros, and sometimes red serranos. Occasionally, you may also find fresh red cayennes, tabasco, and peppers of that sort.

It's more accurate to say that green chiles are almost never sold in dried form, and reds are fresh or dried.

filmore
03-31-2014, 10:11 PM
Pretty much the only type of red/green chile argument in the Southwest is specifically over the Big Jim (http://focusnewmexico.com/chile.htm) chile pepper grown in Hatch, NM. While there are lots of other chiles in the world, they are virtually never part of the discussion about which is better in the Southwest. This type of NM chile is pretty much only available as fresh green peppers or dried red (whole or ground).

pulykamell
03-31-2014, 10:13 PM
Pretty much the only type of red/green chile argument in the Southwest is specifically over the Big Jim (http://focusnewmexico.com/chile.htm) chile pepper grown in Hatch, NM. While there are lots of other chiles in the world, they are virtually never part of the discussion about which is better in the Southwest. This type of NM chile is pretty much only available as fresh green peppers or dried red (whole or ground).

Ah, yes, then.

Siam Sam
03-31-2014, 11:23 PM
Pretty much the only type of red/green chile argument in the Southwest is specifically over the Big Jim (http://focusnewmexico.com/chile.htm) chile pepper grown in Hatch, NM. While there are lots of other chiles in the world, they are virtually never part of the discussion about which is better in the Southwest. This type of NM chile is pretty much only available as fresh green peppers or dried red (whole or ground).

To this day, I still miss my fresh Hatch green chiles from when I was living in Albuquerque. Mmmmm. Great in any dish.

I've taken the wife to New Mexico on occasion, and she also likes the various chile products there. Red/green chile jam, for instance. You certainly don't see anything like that with Thai or other Asian chiles.

dasmoocher
04-05-2014, 12:30 PM
Thanks for the replies. Interesting background. I'll probably treat it like wine--it depends on what I'm eating.

John Mace
04-05-2014, 01:58 PM
Oops. That is correct about the bell peppers. However, red chile is almost always sold in a dried form. It's either found as a powder or as a dried pod which you would grind up yourself.

I bought a packet of dried chiles the other day at the market, just because they looked cool. When I got them home, I realized I had no idea what to do with them. Any advice? Do you hydrate them like dried mushrooms?

mbh
04-05-2014, 05:27 PM
Chop them up in a blender or food processor.

pulykamell
04-05-2014, 05:42 PM
I bought a packet of dried chiles the other day at the market, just because they looked cool. When I got them home, I realized I had no idea what to do with them. Any advice? Do you hydrate them like dried mushrooms?

Typically, when I cook with dried chiles, I quickly pan roast them to soften them (about one minute on a dry pan over high heat), then put them in a bowl that I cover with boiling water, let them soak for about 20 minutes. After reconstituting, they end up in the blender, along with as much of the soaking liquid as I need (taste it first in case to make sure it's not too bitter.) Feel free to scrape out the seeds before soaking, too, if you don't like the extra heat and slight bitterness they impart.

That's more-or-less the usual method for using dried chiles in Mexican cuisine.

pulykamell
04-05-2014, 05:49 PM
Here's a reasonable video (http://youtube.com/watch?v=A_8JS7Y4uj4) showing how New Mexican red chile is made with dried chiles. It skips the pan roasting step I mentioned--I don't know if that's typical with New Mexico chile or not, but the quick roasting on the griddle is a typical step in Mexican recipes. But that's the general idea.

John Mace
04-05-2014, 07:29 PM
Is pureeing them the only option? I can't use them whole or sliced?

pulykamell
04-05-2014, 07:54 PM
Is pureeing them the only option? I can't use them whole or sliced?

Honestly, I don't know. I've never tried them reconstituted and then used in that manner. All the recipes I've had for dried chiles either has me reconstitute and puree them or, very occasionally, use them in powdered form by putting them through a coffee grinder or similar. I'm sure you can get away with using them whole or sliced in a stew or something.

ETA: Then again, I just thought of one use where I've used them whole: in Sichuan cuisine, I've used the chiles fried up whole or in a soupy type of dish like a hotpot.

pulykamell
04-05-2014, 07:58 PM
Actually, now that I think of it, I have come across anchos (dried red poblanos) being used in a chiles rellenos recipe, so, yeah, you can use them reconstituted and whole like that. It's not the usual way, from my experience, but no reason you can't do that.

filmore
04-05-2014, 08:24 PM
I've never tried using the dried red chiles whole. I typically simmer them to soften and then puree to make a sauce. One problem might be the texture of the chiles if they were whole or chopped. They can be a bit firm even after simmering and may not have a pleasant mouth feel. But I'm just guessing since I've never tried.

Typically I bring them to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes. Then I puree them with some of the water they were in. Then I make a make a small roux with a bit of onions and garlic added and pour in the sauce and let that simmer on low for about 10 minutes.

If your chiles still have the seeds in them, soak them in warm water to soften and remove the seeds. The chiles have veins along the side where the heat will be concentrated. You can remove them or leave them in for more heat. You can actually leave the seeds in too, but they'll add a lot of heat.

WARNING: your hands will absorb the chile as you're working with them. You won't notice it unless you touch something like your eyes or nose. Wear gloves or wash carefully afterwards.

Chronos
04-05-2014, 11:42 PM
I'm not in touch with the traditions or anything, but when I use dried chilis, I usually just crumble them into flakes and mix them in with whatever else I'm making.

Labrador Deceiver
04-06-2014, 07:18 AM
Rick Bayless talks about using whole reconstituted chipotle peppers (most often the red/black type, as opposed to the light brown ones), both as a pickle and also as a stuffed main dish. I'll go see if there are other recipes, but I don't recall them off the top of my head.

Musicat
04-06-2014, 09:23 AM
No one in this thread is distinguishing different varieties of chilies, like Serrano (green), Jalapeño (green), Thai (red), or Habañero (orange), each of which have a different taste and hotness.

I like 'em all.

Is pureeing them the only option? I can't use them whole or sliced?Sliced, certainly. Whole might be too much to swallow at once, although if you put a whole one in soup, it might be OK after cooking for a while. I've eaten (carefully) whole, dried, Thai peppers in Chinese food (City Wok Beef), but they are tiny.

Johanna
04-07-2014, 05:49 PM
or Habañero (orange)
Habanero. Named after the capital city of Cuba, La Habana.*

*Even though it doesn't actually come from Cuba; it's native to South America. But a dance that was popular in the 19th century, the habanera (like in Carmen), actually does originate from Cuba.

-eño is one suffix to form an adjective from a place name. Like jalapeño, which is named after Jalapa, Mexico. In this example the ñ belongs to the suffix.

-ero is another suffix that forms adjectives. In the case of habanero, the n belongs to the root word, Habana.

I like 'em all.
You got that right, Cat.

pulykamell
04-07-2014, 05:57 PM
Well, all the chiles come in different varieties, depending on how ripe they are (for example, I can get red and green jalapeños at my local grocery, and the habaneros can be anything from green to yellow to orange to red. Orange is the color most associated with them.) They do certainly have a wide range of flavors. While I find jalapeños and serranos similar, the difference between a poblano and a jalapenño and a Thai birds pepper and a habanero (let's assume all green peppers in this case) is pretty obvious. They are very different. And they are all very good for different reasons.

For this thread, although I've been talking broadly about red and green chiles, in the context of Southwest chiles, I assume the OP is asking about Hatch/New Mexico/Anaheim-type chiles. The green is the fresh variety of these. The red is the more mature and dried variety of these.

Musicat
04-07-2014, 05:59 PM
My ignorance of spanish is showing. Thanks for setting me right, Johanna.

I have made a sauce with one of every one of the chilies I mentioned, including olive oil and garlic, and used it over pasta. It was delicious, but I may have reached my maximum tolerance for hotness. :eek: And every time I want to repeat it, I can't find habaneros or Thai peppers in the local market anymore.

pulykamell
04-07-2014, 06:30 PM
If you have a garden, you should try growing them. Even in Sturgeon Bay, I bet you'd do pretty well. Here in Chicago, I grow habaneros and Thais (among about another dozen varieties) every year, and I end up with way more than I ever know what to do with. Seriously, a couple of Thai pepper plants will get you hundreds of peppers.

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