Pronounced “pah-SEE-yah” the word Pasilla Peppers are derived from the word “Pasa” which translates to “little black raisin”. Pasilla Negros are indigenous to Central Mexico and are a member of the chile species Capsicum annuum. The Dried Pasilla Pepper Negro chile is a key chile in the famous “holy trinity” of Mexican chiles used in Mexican moles along with the Ancho and the Mulato chiles.
Like many chiles, these are known as one thing when dried and are called something else when fresh. When dried they are called Pasilla Negro, chile negro, chile pasilla and chile pasilla pepper de Mexico. The fresh version is known as Chilaca Chiles and these dark green chiles have a similar heat profile to the more popular Poblano pepper.
The fresh chilaca is narrow and grows up to 10” long and usually has a twisted shape, which is not as pronounced when dried. The fresh chilaca chile is also known as pasilla bajio, chile negro or “Mexican negro” because. Chilacas change from dark green to dark brown as they mature.
Beware of California Suppliers
For a long time grocers in the United States and Canada have been accidentally misinforming you. Often, fresh green poblano peppers have been labeled as pasilla peppers. This has led to a widely held confusion as to what exactly a pasilla pepper is. Is it a fresh green chile to be stuffed or a dried dark chile to be toasted? The answer is the latter. The pasilla is a dried chilaca pepper, a gnarled and dark green chile.
If you use a California based supplier for your Pasilla chiles be aware that it may not actually be a Pasilla Pepper Negro that you’re getting. In California, the ancho chile is frequently called pasilla. In California and other areas where the fusion of Cal-Mex cuisine is prevalent fresh poblano chiles are often referred to as pasilla pepper.
Dried Pasilla Pepper Negros are long, thin chiles that are 5” – 10″ in length and 1″ to 1-1/2” wide at the top (by the stem). Meanwhile, ancho chiles (which are dried versions of poblano chiles) are about 3” wide and 4” in length and tapers to a point.
The color of Pasilla Pepper Negro chiles is dark blackish-purple, similar to the color of an eggplant or a raisin. So if you get your dried chiles from California growers or suppliers be sure to check carefully as may not be true pasilla peppers.
Flavor and Heat Profile
This thinly fleshed chile has one of the more sophisticated chile flavors and is a favorite of chileheads. The taste is pungent and tangy with a long lasting deep rich flavor and woodsy undertones.
Pasilla Pepper Negro chiles are considered a mild heat chile and come in at 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
How to Use
In addition to Mexican moles, Pasilla Chiles are used in adobo sauces and salsas. In central Mexico, they’re used as the signature flavor in tortilla soup. When used in the soup it is more common to add the crushed Pasilla Negro chiles on top of the soup than to have them added to the base during cooking but you can certainly do both for more complex depths of flavor.
This chile is a flavorful ingredient when used in your favorite Mexican recipes such as tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and tostadas but they also work well in cream sauce dishes (especially for fish) and we also like to be a bit adventurous and use them in meatloaf, beef stew or corn chowder.
Pasilla Negro chiles work well in combination with duck, fennel, fruits, garlic, honey, lamb, Mexican oregano, mushrooms, and seafood.
A puree of soaked Pasilla Pepper Negro chiles will be brownish-black with reddish overtones. Pasillas yield a fair amount of pulp per ounce.
We like to dry toast these before re-hydrating them for maximum flavor. To re-hydrate soak in hot water for 15-20 minutes but be careful to not let them soak for longer than that or they become bitter.
The Pasilla Negro is closely related to one of our favorite hard to find chiles – Pasilla de Oaxaca from the Oaxacan region of Mexico. If you’re a fan of flavorful Mexican chiles then you’ll love our growing selection that includes – Ancho, Cascabel, Chipotle “Moritas”, Chipotle “Mecos”, Guajillo, Puya, de Arbol, Mulato, Habanero, Chocolate Habanero and Pequin.
Pasilla peppers aren’t too spicy and have a delicious smoky aroma. These will also give this salsa its distinctive color.
Use this Pasilla Negro Chile for cream based sauces, soups, salsa, or for mole. With a fruity flavor and herbaceous undertones, this chili powder is also fantastic with fish, poultry, or to spice up your favorite enchilada or taco.
Some of our favorite recipes using Pasilla Negro chiles are Texas 3 Chiles Chili, Mexican Mole and Mole Chili.
How to Cook Pasilla Pepper Salsa
You may have stumbled across dried peppers at your local grocery store. You can use these to make delicious salsas. This is a template that can be used with any type of dried pepper. Enjoy!
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1 medium white onion
- 8 garlic cloves
- 6 pasilla pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Salt to taste
- Take the tails off and chop. Keep the seeds.
- Roughly chop your onions
- Do the same with the garlic
- Cut the tomatoes in 1/8s. Keep the juices
- Heat your pan over medium-high heat and add 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.
- Add the dried pasilla peppers and fry for 3-5 minutes. Be careful! You don’t want to burn these. The idea is to just sear the peppers a bit to enhance the flavor. This also flavors the oil.
- Add the garlic and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until the garlic has some brown spots
- Now add the tomatoes. Cook until soft.
- Now, we need to add the chicken broth. If you’re animal-conscious, you can use water or veggie broth, but I must admit it tastes better with the chicken one.
- Add to the pan
- Raise the heat to high
- When it starts boiling, lower the heat and let the salsa simmer for 10 minutes
- After that time, remove from the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes
- Put into the blender
- Blend until you can’t see any pieces floating. It needs to be fully blended.
Voila! Pasilla salsa. Enjoy!