ARBOL CHILE PEPPER DRIED
The Arbol Chile Pepper is green when young and then ripens to a vibrant red hue when mature, a color that the pepper will maintain even when dried. Shaped similar to a Cayenne chile, but smaller, this chile grows on a large plant that forms a multi-branching tree-like shape.
Considered to be a hot chile, this two to three-inch chile’s heat offers a distinctive robust flavor with medium-hot pungency ranging between 15,000 and 30,000 Scoville units. Thin-fleshed, the Arbol chile has a smoky, tannic, grassy flavor with a lively acidic, penetrating heat, a flavor that becomes more pronounced once this chile pepper is dried or toasted.
Pronounced “day ar boll”, De Arbol chiles are also known as de Arbol peppers, “Pico de Pajaro” (bird beak), or “cola de rata” (rat tail). The De Arbol chile is believed to be native to Mexico while some serious chile heads believe that it is related to the cayenne chile while others believe it is closely related to the Pequin chile. A member of the chile species Capsicum annuum, De Arbol means “tree-like” in Spanish and was named that because of its instantly recognizable long woody stem.
De Arbol chiles are narrow, curved and a bit pointed at the tip, they’re less than ½” wide and between 2” and 3” long with thin flesh. While growing they are green and mature to bright red at which point they are harvested.
While not as popular as some of the other Mexican chiles the De Arbol chile is rarely found fresh and is considered a hot chile that comes in at 15,000 – 30,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). De Arbol chile peppers are a favorite in Mexican cuisine because of their bold heat and subtly smoky taste. Unlike many chiles, these remain bright red even after they’re dried.
De Arbol has a natural, grassy flavor with a hint of nuttiness and they have a searing, acidic heat. The dried De Arbol has a more distinctive taste than the fresh pepper as the drying process really enhances their flavor. The flavor of De Arbol Chile is considered superior to other chile peppers by many competition chili cooks and is considered a staple in many southwestern US kitchens. We like to use it in place of cayenne as the heat levels are similar but the cayenne really provides no additional flavor just heat.
In its pod form, the De Arbol chile pepper is often used to flavor oils and vinegar, and as a powder, the De Arbol chile pepper is perfect in any dish where you want to increase its heat level. Grind at home in small batches and use in chili, hot sauce, salsas, soups, tacos, and stir-fry.
We like to dry toast them in a hot skillet and then toss them in the blender with tomatillos, onion, roasted garlic, and a little water for a flavorful quick table salsa.
De Arbol Chile can be utilized in any dish where a noticeable flavor and heat are desired. Traditionally used as a staple in Southwestern cuisines, you may also add this chile to Mexican dishes, chili, or salsa for a unique kick.
You can use Japones, Pequin, and Tepin chiles as substitutes for any recipe calling for De Arbol chiles.
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