pequin pepper

SPICE

The chile pequin pepper we use at La Verdad is also known as a bird pepper. They are grown all over Mexico, and when found dry, are red and about 2cm in length. They are a hot pepper about 7x hotter than a jalapeno, just below the habanero on the scoville scale. The flavor is hot, but not overwhelming in my opinion. There is a certain smokey dryness to this pepper that I really enjoy and goes well with citrus.

SECRETS

To use pequin peppers I like to place whole peppers in the oven until the chiles turn a dark red, just before they turn brown. Then buzz in a blender or spice grinder until fine and use for whatever purpose you need.

Currently I am using the pepper as a back note to dishes. The shrimp cocteles we have on our menu consists of charred red pepper, tomato, white onion and garlic mixed with fresh lime and orange juice finished with chile pequin. The chile adds a bit of smoke and heat that really rounds out and compliments the dish in a way that one can’t put their finger on but can recognize on the palate. We fold freshly poached shrimp, red onion, avocado, and top with baby cilantro and serve with plantain chips. Its an outstanding representation of the subtle yet spectacular influence a spicy ingredient can have while not overpowering the other ingredients, creating balance and harmony in ones mouth.

Darren Carbone is the executive chef at La Verdad. He hails from Philadelphia and was hired at La Verdad (in Boston) to evolve a modern Mexican approach. Darren’s approach toward modern Mexican food allows him to use modern cooking techniques and creative presentations while respecting and embracing what Mexican food is all about.


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