If you are not familiar with the vast variety of peppers in your market here is a quick guide:
- Banana peppers are generally quite mild but may have a gentle kick. They are usually yellowish green and are good for quick pickling, salads and stuffing.
- Anaheim peppers are light to medium green and are similar to banana peppers, although a bit hotter. They are good to put in salsa and chili verde.
- Piquillo peppers are also quite mild although their red color would indicate differently. They are a Spanish pepper often stuffed and served as Tapas.
- Padron peppers are light green, another Spanish type, also mild but may have a bit of spice. Blister them over a fire, douse with oil and salt and eat whole.
- Poblano peppers look a bit like green peppers but flatter and elongated. They are a very dark green. They are the main component in chili rellenos and are good for all sorts of stuffing. Generally they are mild, but may be a little hot at times.
- Red Thai peppers look more lethal than they are. They are spicy but not killer. They are small, thin and red, and especially good in curries and other Indian food.
- Jalapenos are one of the green hot peppers you will see the most in supermarkets. They range from medium spice to very hot. A must for salsas and great on the grill stuffed with cheese.
- Fresno peppers are similar to jalapenos but tend to be a tad milder. Great for all southwest or Mexican cooking.
- Shishito peppers are green and medium sized. They tend to be more hot than mild. Prepare them as you do Padron.
- Serrano peppers are slender, small and light to medium green. They pack a hot punch. The smaller they are the hotter. Good anywhere you need heat, salsas, curries and Mexican food.
- Cayenne peppers are South American and spicy hot. Mostly used as a dried spice but fresh in many Asian dishes.
- Habanero peppers are usually the hottest peppers found in supermarkets just about everywhere. They are small, rather round and usually orange to reddish in color. Very popular in Caribbean and Latin American cooking.
Try a new pepper or two in your cooking! Try a small piece first to gauge the hotness and use accordingly. You might be surprised at how much your cooking is better with a little shot of heat.
Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago