Turning up the Heat With Hot Peppers

by | Sep 2023

Thai Mango Salad

Thai Mango Salad. Photo: Kowalski’s Markets

The spiciness of a pepper is measured according to the Scoville Heat Unit Scale (listed as SHU). Sweet bell peppers are rated a zero on the scale, while the hottest varieties can score 1,500,000 SHU or more. You may be familiar with jalapeños (2,000–8,000 SHU) and habañeros (100,000–575,000 SHU). Here are some that you might not be as familiar with:

Anaheims, 500–2,500 SHU: This large, pale yellow-green, mild hot pepper is named for Anaheim, California, even though they originated in New Mexico. The most famous of the Anaheim chiles is the hatch chile; they
are usually on the spicier end of the scale. The fresh green taste of Anaheims is great in tomatillo salsa. These peppers are also commonly roasted and stuffed.

Poblanos, 1,000–5,000 SHU: When dried, these dark green beauties are known as anchos. Used commonly in moles, their large size and mild spiciness also make poblanos popular for stuffing, as in recipes for chiles rellenos.

Fresnos, 2,500–10,000 SHU: Fresno peppers resemble red jalapeños. Though they can be hotter than jalapeños, they are often sweeter and have a pronounced smokiness. They’re very good pickled and in fresh or cooked sauces and salsas.

Serranos, 15,000–30,000 SHU: Often slightly smaller than Fresnos, the heat of serranos tends to increase as the size decreases. Their fleshiness makes them a nice substitute for jalapeños in spicy salsa. Their most famous use is in giardiniera, a pickled vegetable condiment popular in Italy.

Roasted Hatch Chiles
  • hatch chile peppers, washed and dried

Place chiles in a single layer on baking sheet(s) lined with foil. Under a broiler preheated to high, broil chiles until the skin begins to char and blister; turn chiles with tongs and continue to broil and turn peppers until all sides are 70–75 percent blistered (6–10 minutes total). Transfer chiles to a bowl; tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for 10–15 minutes. Pull the skins off the chiles (skin should come off easily; gently scrape flesh with a sharp knife if needed). Slit peppers lengthwise; gently scrape out seeds and light-colored membranes with a knife or spoon. Discard skins, seeds and membrane.

Tasty Tips:

You can also roast chiles directly on a grill or open flame; watch them closely and turn as needed to achieve even charring. Roast chiles directly on the grill, watching them closely and turning as needed.

Roasted chiles may be frozen for up to 1 year. Place cooled chiles in a single layer on a tray; once they have frozen solid, transfer to a storage container. Thaw in the refrigerator before using. 

Thai Mango Salad

Serves 4

  • 1 lime
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  • black peppercorns, to taste
  • 1 ½ lbs. (approximately) fresh mango, peeled, seeded and diced or cut into long matchsticks
  • ½ cup peeled and seeded diced cucumber
  • ½ cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped roasted and salted peanuts, divided
  • ½ oz. (approx.) fresh cilantro
  • red Fresno pepper, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced, to taste

Use a microplane to remove 1 ½ tsp. zest from the lime; place zest in a medium mixing or salad bowl. Cut lime in half; squeeze 2 Tbsp. juice into the bowl with the zest. Whisk in oil, honey and soy sauce until blended; season with pepper to taste. Add mango, cucumber, carrots and most of the peanuts to the bowl; toss to coat. Divide salad among 4 serving dishes; top with cilantro and peppers. Garnish with remaining peanuts.

Tasty Tip:

Use a vegetable spiralizer tool to create fun mango noodles!

Rachael Perron is the culinary and branding director for Kowalski’s Markets, where she specializes in product development and selection, culinary education and communications. Taste more at kowalskis.com.


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