Dry Chiles at market

Dried Chiles

Dried chiles are a main ingredient in most mole recipes. Naturally, different varieties provide an array of flavors and heat levels. These differences provide many options when cooking.

Cooking with dried chiles can seem intimidating, but it really is easy. To reduce the spice-level, remove the seeds and veins. To develop more robust flavors, toast the chiles over fire. You can even give them a quick fry in oil. Just don’t over cook them or they will develop a bitter flavor. Finally, rehydrate your chiles. Use cold water for a longer period of time and hot water for a quick-hydration.

Dried chiles are perfect for making salsas, moles and dry rubs. Now that you know how to use them, you can begin to experiment and learn about the different flavors each chile has. Bell peppers have a sweet, mild flavor. While, jalapeños are hot and spicy. Now imagine how different the flavor profile of each of those chiles would be dried. When chiles are dehydrated, their flavors change. And so does their name. For example, dried jalapeños are chipotle chiles.

Some common dried chiles (chiles secos) you’ll find in Mexican cooking are:

  • Ancho
  • Chile de Arbol
  • Chipotle
  • Guajillo
  • Mulato
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