Serrano chiles offer the addictive hot, fresh, and intense flavor to salsa, soups, and stews. Learn what we like the most about this flavorsome Mexican ingredient.
What are serrano chiles?
The serrano chile, also known as the serrano pepper, is a bright, hot chile pepper used widely in Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine. The name serrano comes from the mountains in Mexico where the spice originated. Serrano and jalapeño peppers are very similar in shape and texture, however, serrano peppers are smaller and five times hotter than the mild jalapeño pepper.
Depending upon the ripeness of serrano pepper, they can be green, yellow, red, and even brown from the outside. The unripe,green-colored serrano chiles are often mild in spiciness compared to their fully ripe and red counterparts. No doubt, Mexican cuisine is incomplete without this magical spice that happens to be the second most popular spice in Mexico after jalapeños.
Flavor of serrano chiles
Fresh serrano chiles offer an intense spicy flavor, which is slightly earthy, grassy, and bitter. They resemble jalapeños in flavor while being five times hotter. Interestingly, once consumed, it takes a moment to feel that spicy serrano kick of flavor.
Uses of serrano chiles
Serrano chiles are used mostly in salads, sauces, and dips to give them a biting spicy kick with its intense flavor. Serrano chiles are an integral ingredient in salsa, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Many chili recipes incorporate serranos alongside meat, tomatoes, beans, and a variety of herbs and spices; try our recipe for Carne Guisada, which uses a mix of serranos and jalapeños. Besides stews, this intensely hot pepper is used to give a spicy-savory kick to Morisqueta, a delicious Mexican dish of rice, beans, and fresh salsa.
Many people like to have a spicy side dish alongside the main course, that’s where serrano chiles come into action. Raw, grilled, or roasted serrano peppers go well alongside sauteed vegetables, cheese, and sausages. Vietnamese and Mexican cuisine leverages hot serrano chiles into spicy-tangy pickles with many other ingredients like vegetables, onions, garlic, and vinegar.
You can find serrano chiles in your local grocery stores to spice up your palate. Beware the slowly released spiciness of serrano chiles will make you crave more!