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How to Handle Hot Chilies

     Hot peppers, or chilies, vary in piquancy-sometimes even on a single plant. The fresh red and green chilies used in recipes in All Easy Recipes are generally hot. (Fresh green chilies are underripe red chilies, and taste almost the same.) Canned green chilies are mildly piquant; canned jalapeno chilies are fiery. Though most dried chilies are hot, the ancho variety is almost sweet and is used primarily to give sauces a maroon color.
     The volatile oils in any of these chilies may burn your skin and make your eyes smart. Wear rubber gloves if you can, and be careful not to touch your face while working with chilies. After handling the hot peppers, wash your hands (and the gloves) thoroughly with soap and water. Before chopping chilies, rinse them clean and pull out the stems under cold running water. Break or cut the pods in half and brush out the seeds. The chilies may be used at once or soaked in cold salted water for an hour or so to make them less hot.
     Small dried chilies should be stemmed, broken open and seeded before they are used. Dried ancho chilies should be plumped as well. Place the seeded ancho chilies in a bowl, pour in enough boiling water to cover them completely, and let them soak for at least 30 minutes. If you wish to remove the skins, slip them off with your fingers or a small knife, or put the chilies through the finest blade of a food mill.
     Canned chilies should always be rinsed in cold water (to remove the brine in which they were preserved) before they are cut and seeded.

ANCHO: A deep-mahogany, heartshaped chili, about 3 inches long by 2½ inches wide at its widest point. The ancho (meaning "broad" in Spanish) is a member of the Cayenne group. Fullflavored and mild.
CHIPOTLE: A dark brick-red chili about 2 inches long, plump, tapered and twisted. Very hot, with a pungent, distinct flavor.
GDERO (also known as California green pepper): A pale plump yellowish-green mild chili, 3 to 4 inches long and about 2½ inches in diameter. Slightly curved and tapered. Widely available in the fall in vegetable and supermarkets.
HONTAKA: A red, thin, somewhat wrinkled chili 1 to 2 inches long. Very pungent. Largely grown in Japan. Sold dried in jars and cellophane packets.
JALAPENO: A grass-green, smooth-skinned chili, about 2 inches long. Hot and juicy, rather stringy. The jalapeno is widely available canned.
MALAGUETA PEPPER: A small green or red chili resembling the slender tapering tabasco pepper. Very hot. Used in Bahian cooking.
MULATO: A darker, larger and more pungent chili than the ancho, with which it is often combined in cooking. Sold dried.
PASILLA: A thin, mahogany chili, about 7 inches long. The flavor is not so marked as the ancho's but it is more pungent. Available dried.
PEPPERS, GREEN OR RED, MILD (also known as bell peppers, sweet peppers or, in the Midwest, mango peppers): Although slightly pungent peppers do exist within this variety, only a fresh, mild form is usually found in markets. The kinds most commonly sold are plump and block-shaped, 4 to 5 inches long, tapering slightly toward the bottom. Dark green when immature, they will ripen to a brilliant red. Available fresh.
PEPPERS, GREEN OR RED, PIQUANT (usually Cayenne): Peppers ripen from green through orangey-yellow to red, and continue to ripen after they are picked. Color should not affect pungency, but flavor is sometimes more pronounced in the fully ripened ones. Some are tapered, twisted and wrinkled, some are smooth and shiny. Within the same strain some may be mild, others hot to very hot. Sizes vary anywhere from 3 to 8 inches.
PEPPERS, YELLOW, PIQUANT: Smooth and waxy, bright yellow, maturing to orange-red, about 5 inches long by ¾ inches. These peppers are often found under the name "Hungarian yellow wax" and vary from mildly piquant to very pungent. Available fresh, usually in the fall.
PEQUIN (also known as tepin): Tiny bright-red oval chilies about ½ inch long. Very hot. Available bottled or dried.
POBLANO: A dark-green chili, about the size of a bell pepper though more tapered and with a richer flavor. Usually mild, but occasionally slightly hot. Available fresh and canned.
SERRANO: A tapered bright-green smooth pepper, 1 to 2 inches long. Mildly hot and very savory. Available in cans.
TABASCO: Bright red, smoothskinned and tapered, about 1½ inches long. Hot. It is sold bottled whole, and is not to be confused with Tabasco sauce.

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