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terminology question: chili pepper, hot pepper, hot red pepper ?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Before leaving the states in the 70s I always remember seeing "hot pepper flakes" or "hot red pepper" in the spice sections.  I think people did use the term "chili" or "chili pepper" but I always thought it was a mexican thing, a specific kind of hot pepper.  Italian hot pepper is called "pepperoncino" and we called it that at home (Italian american family). 

 

Now i see the word chili used everywhere.  Does that refer to all small hot red peppers used for seasoning (as opposed to the big ones used as vegetables, like bell peppers, etc)?  I know there are tons of kinds of hot peppers, but are they all called chili? 

 

thanks

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #2 of 9

Chile/chili is not used consistently. When reading a recipe, you need to carefully look at where the author lives (as that impacts usage) and the cuisine of the dish.

 

I use the word chile to refer to the pepper pod. Chili is the meat stew. Chili powder is the spice blend for making the meat stew. That's not a universal conceit but can be a helpful way to look at usage in the US.

 

If the author is cooking Indian/Thai/Mexican from a traditional perspective, they'll mean a pure ground chile powder, only ground chiles in it. They'll often specify which type, or a couple of types for different heat levels/flavors. Often cayenne pepper is meant as that's the common chile/chili powder for English speakers outside of the US.

 

If the author is from the US and cooking in a modern casual home cook way, they usually mean the chili powder spice blend.

 

If the author is from Europe or other English speaking countries, it's usually the chile flakes/powder, not the spice blend.

 

Red pepper is usually cayenne pepper as a powder. Red chile tends to be flakes in my experience. But they usually specify flakes or whole dried pods if that's what they mean.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by siduri View Post

I know there are tons of kinds of hot peppers, but are they all called chili? 

 

thanks

 



In general, no they are not.. at least in America that is.  As phatch said... they are all generically called "chile", with an 'e'.  Chili with an 'i' is a concoction (prepraration) that uses chile in the sauce... and there are many regional varients of chili too.

 

The various chile peppers have very different characteristics.  A good resource to learn the differences is almost any one of Rick Bayless' books.  He describes the various names under which each chile may be called in various regions and describes the differing characteristics in the glossary or ingredients section.  I think his earlier books did this more effectively than the later books.  The best, though, is a small paperback that I can't recall the title of, which was focused on the variety of Mexican salsas.

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys.  I get confused on the spelling and used the italian spelling, where I is pronounced EE.  Yes, i meant chile.  Which is even more confusing because it's a country!

 

I didn;t mean the powder, i don't usually use the powder.  I use either dried whole red peppers (about 3/4 inch long) or (what i recently discovered i like better) fresh red peppers, usually a little longer, sometimes 4 inches long or so, but still very thin, or red pepper flakes.  And i mainly intended it for making dishes like Penne all'Arrabbiata, though now i've begun to add fresh hot red peppers to many dishes since i find they have more flavor and less burning. 

But is the term  "chile peppers" used for all hot peppers? 

 

Also, my daughter had a kind of mexican hot pepper flake that was slightly dark and less hot than usual and very tasty.  Does anyone know what that is?  I'm not crazy about burning my tongue but i have developed a taste for the flavor of hot peppers with a little heat in them.  (I will always remain true to my favorite spice, though, black pepper, the sight of which - black dots over the food- gives me an appetite and the very smell of which makes me sigh in ecstasy!)

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 9

Guajillo is nicely dark dried mexican chile with a good flavor and pleasant heat (to my taste anyway which runs to the medium-mild). Remove the seeds and stems and crumble up. I don't know if you can get them over there. Should be available online though shipping will not be optimally priced

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks phatch.  I'll look for it, not likely here but maybe i can ask a friend who should be coming over for it. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #7 of 9

The Guajillo that phatch mentions is by far the most useful chile of all that are used in Mexican cooking.  The heat is moderate and the flavor is rich.  I even grind them into flakes and use as pepperoncini for my Italian cooking.

 

The darker, less hot, and very tasty chile powder you describe sounds like it might be an Ancho chile powder (dried pasilla chile).  That is a very rich tasting chile that I like to blend with the Guajillo when making chili (with an "i").  Ancho has become quite popular in the past few years.  The other alternative might be Chipolte, which  is a dried and smoked jalapeno.  Chipolte is quite noticably smoky tasting.  I'm thinking that you have some ground Ancho.

 

Sometimes, though, what is sold as "Flaked Chile Pepper" here in the US is roughly ground "California" or "New Mexico" chiles.  California is generally milder than New Mexico.  They are the type famously grown around Hatch New Mexico.  Like Guajillo, they are decent general-purpose chile but the flavor is now quite as bright as the Guajillo.  When old they tend to change from bright-ish red to a dark-ish brown.

post #8 of 9

One correction, Brian, which probably resulted from your mind running faster than your fingers (doncha just hate when that happens eek.gif):  Ancho is the dried form of the poblano. Adding to the confusion, of course, is that ancho and poblano, more and more, are being used interchangeably---just as people use the term chipotle as if it's a separate variety.

 

Siduri, to answer your basic question, yes. In the U.S. at least, "chile" is used generically to describe all hot peppers. The red pepper flakes you remember were Cayenne, but, nowadays, other chiles are used, noteably New Mexico. In theory, the variety should be marked on the jar, but it rarely is. And you have to watch brands, because many of them contain more seed than pepper flakes, which can significantly affect flavor. Usually price point can help determine quality, but that's not always the case.

 

Labels are really important with it comes to chile powder, too. Most chile powder is a blend that includes one or more types of chile peppers (cayene is the usual choice) along with garlic powder, salt, and, sometimes, other ingredients. If the product name includes more than just the word "chile," however, there's a greater chance of it not being a blend. For instance, if the jar says "Ancho Chile Powder," it's more likely to contain just the ground chiles.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks all,

here at most you might read the region the hot pepper comes from. 

At the market and at the plant stores, you can find fresh hot peppers (and pepper plants) that may be short and thin, short but very wrinkly, like crumpled paper, sort of roundish, long and thin, curling towards the point, and round - nobody seems to know what the difference is, at least where i shop.  I'd love to have seeds and plant the ones described (ancho/poblano) - if i could get them to grow - i'm not great with horticulture and my terrace needs watering every single day and if i forget one day many things just die. 

 

anyway, much useful information as usual.  many thanks.

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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