Hot About Chiles

August in Taos. The chile roasters have set up in front of the supermarkets, hand-cranking mesh barrels over a gas-fired flame. People line up with burlap bags filled with Hatch chiles as they wait their turn.

A chile roaster at work.


The smell of roasting chile is heavenly and a sure sign summer is winding down.

The farmers market and grocery stores now sell a wide variety of peppers: Anaheim, jalapeño, poblano, serrano, the list goes on.

My favorite? Shishito, which is actually a Japanese pepper. They are about the size of my littlest finger, slender, and thin-walled. The flavor is pungent and on the sweet side. Once in a while one is actually, well, peppery.

Shishito peppers at Cid’s

I ate them first at a friend’s house. Gail cooked them, oiled and salted, on the grill for an appetizer. We ate the whole pile except for the stems.

Cid’s, the natural foods market in Taos, started carrying shishito peppers a couple of weeks ago. They are on the pricey side but they are grown at a local farm and a pound contains a lot of peppers.

Like Gail, I’ve grilled the shishito peppers. When it’s raining or I’m in too much of a rush to fire up the charred-wood in the grill, I pop them under the broiler. Here’s how I do it.

Spread the clean shishito peppers on a cooking sheet. Mix in a teaspoonful of olive oil evenly. If the peppers look too oil, dab them with a paper towel. Sprinkle a little sea salt. Slide the sheet under a broiler on high for 10 minutes. At about 5 minutes give the peppers a stir so they cook evenly. The peppers are ready when they have a slightly grilled look. Serve immediately.

Fresh out of the broiler


Now for the chile roasters. I don’t buy a big bag of Hatch chile. Instead I choose a package of fresh-roasted green chile found in the produce section.

When I get home, I place each roasted chile in an individual plastic snack bag and freeze them. If I were to put the whole package in the freezer, the chiles would form a solid block that would be difficult to separate — as I found out one time.

Separated, I can unthaw a roasted chile when I need one. I remove the skin and most of the seeds, and then pop it into a soup or another dish this winter for a good green chile flavor.