Rocotillo Chile Pepper Stats
Width: 1 ½"
Scientific Name: Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum chinense
Other Names: squash pepper
Scoville Range: 1,500 - 2,500
Rocotillo Chile Pepper Origin and History
Confusion surrounds the origin and naming of the rocotillo chile. Rocotillo chiles appear to be varieties of both Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum chinense. While they have similar appearance and heat, their origins differ. The baccatum variety is from Peru, but the exact origin of the chinense version is not known for certain. In addition, different hot peppers are called rocotillo in different parts of Central and South America.
Cuba and Puerto Rico also grow rocotillo chiles, as does Texas and other warm U.S. states.
Rocotillo Chile Pepper Description
The small, brilliant red peppers have a fruity taste with a mild to medium heat described as hot enough to be interesting, but not biting. Short and wide, the thin-fleshed peppers have an unusual shape that is similar to the patty pan squash, hence the nickname "squash pepper."
The unripe fruit are green or yellow and they mature to red or (less commonly) orange or brown. They are harvested and used in both the ripe and unripe states. Markets carry the fresh pods seasonally.
Rocotillo chiles grow on plants that are 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide. The fruit grow in clusters of 2 to 4 pods. The bushy plants are compact and very productive.
Rocotillo Chile Pepper How to Serve or Use
Rocotillo chiles dry easily. They are popular in Spanish dishes, including soups and stews, and are also eaten fresh.
Rocotillos are used in salsa (e.g. rocotillo-mango relish and Spanish-Caribbean Salsa), as a garnish for beans, and roasted with beef or lamb. Rocotillo pepper and pasta salad with white vinegar and black olives makes good use of this relatively mild pepper. A recipe for rice pilaf with shrimp uses rocotillo chile for its flavor and moderate heat.
Rocotillo chiles work well sautéed by themselves or with other vegetables. In beans or in the traditional carne asada (thinly sliced marinated and grilled beef); rocotillo chiles are served as an accompanying condiment or cooked with the food.
Fresh, unwashed peppers store well in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for one week.
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