Anyone who wants to master the art of Basque Country cooking should get to grips with this delicious chili.
These peppers are usually served pickled in white wine for a delicious acidic tang alongside some fairly mild heat – a treat revered by the Basque region.
Given the region enjoys such a wide variety of chili peppers, it is hardly surprising that a pickled version is used for everything from cocktails, to appetizers with some cheese.
The guindilla pepper is long and thin, maxing out at 4 inches (10cm) in length but can be enjoyed when they are just 1.5 inches (4cm) long. Guindilla peppers tend to be green but can vary slightly and develop a yellowish tinge.
The fresh peppers are smooth with shiny, taut skin that develops attractive characteristics when dried.
In terms of appearance, the guindilla very closely resembles green cayenne peppers but they do taste much milder.
Guindilla Taste And Texture
The smoothness and tightness of the guindilla pepper’s skin give them a lovely crunch that is retained when pickled.
Pickling guindilla chilies give a tangy and light flavor. The pickling process tenderizes the flesh of the peppers wonderfully and thins the skin, making them ideal garnishes for dishes or even some cocktails – Bloody Mary, anyone?
Fresh guindillas taste slightly sweet, with a good crunch, and fairly mild heat. These peppers are perfect to use when you want to brighten up an otherwise rich or heavy dish.
For that extra kick of flavor, try infusing guindilla peppers in oils. This is a not uncommon usage for the pepper and is popular for tapas dishes.
As ever, the spiciness of the guindilla pepper will depend a little on the taster.
For a die-hard chili fan? They are not spicy and rack up a Scoville unit score somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000. To put that into perspective, a jalapeno pepper has a Scoville score of around 5,000, and a Carolina Reaper will easily hit the 2,000,000 Scoville mark.
For those that like a little bit of a heat kick in their food without interfering with the overall flavor balance, the guindilla is ideal – spicy enough to have an impact without overpowering.
You can easily substitute banana peppers with guindilla peppers as they are very similar in taste, though the guindilla is a little less complicated.
‘Guindilla’ is the Spanish word for chili pepper – not exactly the most interesting etymological investigation! This, however, is used exclusively for the fresh or occasionally dried version of these peppers.
When they are pickled, the peppers are called ‘piparras’ which, translated, means ‘pipes’ in reference to their long, tubular shape. It is also common to see pickled guindillas sold as ‘Guindillas la Vasca’ which can be translated into chili peppers of the Basque.
The Basque region covers northeast Spain and southwest France, along the western Pyrenees and the coast of the Bay of Biscay. It is an area that was traditionally inhabited by the Basque people and is heavily dominated by a humid and warm climate – hardly surprising that guindillas flourish there.
Where To Buy Guindilla Chili Peppers
Guindilla peppers are widely available in the north of Spain and southwesterly parts of France – Basque country – and elsewhere across Europe.
Check out your local delicatessen to see if they stock this delicious chili. If not, you are bound to find some online with a few simple searches – try ‘guindilla peppers near me.’
How To Use Guindilla Peppers
If you want to try some authentic cuisine, you should try pickling guindillas in white wine vinegar. These are perfectly paired with some good wine and cheese to create a delicious pinxto meal – a very popular bar snack in the Basque region.
Frying guindillas with some garlic, olive oil, shrimp, and topped with some parsley is a delicious option for those wanting to try some adventurous cooking. For the vegetarian crowd, use guindillas to level up your croquette game.
Spice up your cocktail game by replacing celery with pickled guindillas in a Bloody Mary for some less traditional but delicious drinks.
For extra flavor points, try putting some of the guindilla pickling vinegar in with the drink before mixing. This will add some tartness and some nice acidity to cut through any heaviness.