If you like cooking with chili peppers but don’t necessarily want your mouth to go numb, you may be interested in the guajillo pepper (pronounced gwa-hee-yo).
This chili pepper has such a pleasant flavor that it is no wonder that it is one of the most popular dried chiles used in sauces and salsas.
What Is A Guajillo Pepper?
Interestingly, the guajillo is the same pepper as the mirasol pepper but in a dried form. The misarol pepper is one of the most popular choices for cooking – especially in sauces and is as hot as a jalapeno at 2,500 to 5,000 units on the Scoville scale.
They originated from the Mexican state of Zacatecas and have two variations. There is the guajillo puya is a smaller size but packs more heat and the other is the guajillo pepper is larger, less spicey, and has more flavor.
In general, they are said to have a medium heat with a berry-like flavor with a hint of smokiness, and some even say that they taste like green tea. This combination of flavors makes them versatile enough to be added to many different dishes as a drizzle, marinade, or butter.
What Are They Used For?
Guajillo peppers are so good that they are the second most popular choice behind the ancho in Mexican cooking. You can buy them in different forms such as powder, toasted, and re-hydrated.
The best way to prepare guajillo peppers is by dry toasting them lightly on medium heat before opening them up and removing the seeds. After this, it is recommended to re-hydrate them by putting them in hot water for 30 minutes and then blending it into a paste.
Another method is to grind the guajillo pods into a powder after you remove the stem and seeds which can be a great way to season any dish you like.
It is important to remove the seeds from the guajillo pepper because they add a tough texture to the sauce or marinade that you use them in, and the seeds are the spiciest part of the pepper which may be too hot for most people.
However, if you like some additional heat you can keep some of the seeds in.
One of the most common uses for the guajillo pepper is to make traditional mole sauces and marinades. Mole sauce can be served as a dip for chips, a sauce for enchiladas, as a drizzle over meat or cooked vegetables as well as an addition to stew and soup.
It depends on what kind of peppers you use, but mole sauce usually has a sweet and spicy taste and can be added to a lot of different dishes from lamb to poultry.
Traditionally, the peppers used in mole sauce are roasted and ground down into a paste by hand but is a less common practice nowadays.
To make the mole sauce you will need four to five guajillo peppers as well as chicken broth, dark chocolate, onion, garlic, cumin, vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. You will also need a food processor to blend all of these ingredients together.
First, you must soak the guajillo peppers you have removed the seeds and stems from in warm water for 30 minutes. Add the peppers and the rest of the ingredients into the food processor and blend until it is smooth, then simmer the mixture in a saucepan at a medium-low temperature until it is the thickness you want.
To serve the mole sauce you can sprinkle on some sesame seeds as well as place a bit of cilantro on top.
Since guajillo peppers are packed with delicious flavors, they make for a perfect marinade for all sorts of meat and vegetables. To make a traditional guajillo marinade, the process is very similar to the way that you would make a mole sauce except the ingredients are a bit different.
You will need six guajillo peppers, garlic, water, apple cider vinegar, cumin, and salt. It is best to lightly toast them first in a frying pan so that you get as much flavor as you can out of them, and they become fragrant.
However, make sure not to over toast them as this can make the marinade taste bitter.
Once you have roasted the peppers, let them soak in water for 30 minutes. Add the peppers and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth, after this you can pour the marinade into a container to use with pork, chicken, beef, or vegetables.
Growing Your Own Guajillo Pepper
When the misarol pepper is ripe, they have rich, red-colored skin that is smooth but tough. They can reach 6-inches in length and are known to grow upwards which gives them the name misarol which translates to ‘looking at the sun’ in Spanish.
If you have fallen in love with the guajillo pepper flavor so much that you are wanting your very own supply of them, you should know that they cannot withstand cold temperatures very well.
However, if you live somewhere that is 70 to 80°F during the day then your mirasol peppers will be in their ideal climate. The misarol seeds should be planted 18-inches apart in late spring once there is no risk of frost and the soil is nice and moist but not water-logged or soggy.
Since guajillo peppers are so popular, fortunately, you do not have to grow them yourself if you don’t want to as you can pick some up from most large grocery stores, oriental shops and markets.