Fresh, Dried, powdered
Fruit and Seeds
Chile negro or chilaca The pasilla chile or chile negro is the dried form of a variety of C. annuum named for its dark, wrinkled skin. In its fresh form, it is called the chilaca. It is a mild to medium-hot, rich-flavored chile. It is generally 6 to 8 in (15 to 20 cm) long and 1.0 to 1.5 in (2.5 to 4 cm) in diameter. The fresh narrow chilaca can measure up to 9.0 in (22 cm) long and often has a twisted shape, which is seldom apparent after drying. It turns from dark green to dark brown when fully mature.
Pasilla de Oaxaca is a variety of smoked pasilla chile from Oaxaca used in mole negro. Pasilla peppers are often combined with fruits and are excellent served with duck, seafood, lamb, mushrooms, garlic, fennel, honey, or oregano.
Pronounced “pah-SEE-yah” the word Pasilla is derived from the word “Pasa” which translates to “little black raisin”. Pasilla Negros are indigenous to Central Mexico and are a member of the chile species Capsicum annuum. Like many chiles these are known as one thing when dried and are called something else
when fresh. When dried it is called pasilla negro, chile negro, chile
pasilla and chile pasilla de Mexico. The Pasilla Negro is the dried
version of the Chilaca Chiles which are dark green chiles that feature
a similar heat profile to the more popular Poblano pepper. The fresh
chilaca is narrow and grows up to 10” long and usually has a twisted
shape, which is not as pronounced when dried. The chilaca, when
fresh, is also known as pasilla bajio, chile negro or “Mexican negro”
because, it changes from dark green to a dark brown as it matures.
To add to the confusion in California the ancho chile is frequently called pasilla. This is because in California and other areas where the fusion of Cal-Mex cuisine is prevalent they call the fresh wide poblano chile a pasilla. So if you get your dried chiles from California growers or suppliers be sure to check carefully as may not be true pasilla peppers.
Dried Pasilla Negros are long, thin chiles that are 5” - 10" in length and 1" to 1-1/2” wide at the top (by the stem). The color of this dried pepper is dark blackish-purple; similar to the color of an eggplant or a raisin. This thin fleshed chile has one of the more sophisticated chile flavors and is a favorite of chile heads. The taste is pungent and tangy but with a long lasting deep rich flavor with woodsy undertones. Pasilla Negros are considered a mild heat chile and come in at 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). There are approximately 3 dried Pasilla Negro Chiles per oz.
A puree of soaked Pasilla Negro chiles will be brownish-black with reddish overtones. Pasillas yield a fair amount of pulp per ounce. The Dried Pasilla Negro Chile is a key chile in the famous “holy trinity” of Mexican chiles used in Mexican moles along with the Ancho and the Mulatochiles. In addition to Mexican moles, Pasilla Chiles are used in adobo sauces and salsas. In central Mexico they are used as the signature flavor in tortilla soup. When used in soup it is more common to add the crushed Pasilla Negro chiles on top of the soup than to have them added to the base during cooking but you can certainly do both for more complex depths of flavor.
This chile is a flavorful ingredient when used in your favorite Mexican recipes such as tacos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas and toasados but they also work well in cream sauce dishes (especially for fish) and we also like to be a bit adventurous and use them in meat loaf, beef stew or corn chowder.