The Basics: Serrano Peppers


Cooking Essentials

The Technique

Serrano Peppers

Serrano peppers are well known as a type of chili pepper that originated in Mexico most ideal for use in fresh applications. They register on the Scoville Scale, a chart specifically designed to gauge the heat level of peppers, typically between 10,000 to 23,000. Bell peppers fall at the bottom of the chart with a rating of zero while jalapeños can reach up to 10,000 & habaneros fall mid-range with a rating between 100,000 to 350,000 in comparison. In general, smaller peppers tend to be much more spicy. Serranos may typically be found green, although red, yellow & orange fruit are available too & the color changes as they ripen. Serrano peppers are most notably used in classic recipes such as pico de galo & salsa but their versatility may be extended to other traditional Mexican cuisine such as enchiladas, gorditas & more. They may be used in place of jalapeños although a bit less may be desired if doing so. Serrano peppers measure approximately 3-inches in length & are wonderful when used to make pepper sauces & for pickling applications. 

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How To Handle & Mince Serrano Peppers

Hot chili peppers affect me greatly when I work them. Not enough to avoid the fruit, however I sometimes experience watery eyes or a slight itch in the back of my throat just from handling them. The symptoms generally subside after about 30 minutes. You should become aware as to how they could possibly affect yourself as well. Wearing a pair of disposable gloves is highly recommended when prepping serrano peppers as the flesh & oils will irritate the skin which may translate to a tingling sensation on the tips of your fingers without them. Always keep a box handy in the kitchen to use for a variety of cooking tasks. 

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 Mincing serrano peppers allow for better overall distribution throughout recipe applications. Slice the peppers in half. The membrane & the seeds carry a good deal of the heat. Remove them if a milder flavor is desired or add just a smidgen to heighten. Cut ultra thin strips of the pepper lengthwise, then use a chef knife to begin cutting the pieces crosswise. Continue cutting until the pieces are finely minced. Use as directed in recipe applications. 

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