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Chiles

Everyday Food, July/August 2003

Chiles are easily tamed once you know how. Use them in salsas, but also in salads or with grilled pork or steak.

The Types
There are more than 200 varieties of this spicy vegetable, ranging in length from 1/4 inch to 12 inches, in color from yellow to green to red to black, and in flavor from mildly spicy to extremely hot. In general, the smaller the chile, the hotter it is.

Poblano
The darker the poblano, the richer the flavor, which varies from mild to strong. At about 4 inches long and 3 inches wide, they are the ideal size for roasting, grilling, or stuffing (try Monterey Jack cheese).

Jalapeno
These chiles range from mild to strong. Jalapenos can be roasted, pickled, or stewed; they can also be used as a condiment for sandwiches or simply sliced and sprinkled on nachos or pizza.

Serrano
Serranos are slightly pointed and very hot. They are often used in guacamole and salsa and can also spice up a stir-fry.

How to Store
Chiles can be stored in a paper bag in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Handling Chiles
When the oil from chiles gets on your fingers, it can irritate eyes and skin. To avoid this, wear rubber gloves while working with them, or, if you use your bare hands, wash thoroughly with soap and water, and keep your fingers away from your eyes and face.

Adjusting the Heat
The seeds and ribs are the hottest parts of the chile. You can control the heat by removing all or some of these before chopping.