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Aji Chombo Chile Peppers
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Aji Chombo chile peppers are squat and short, averaging six centimeters in length and three centimeters in width, and have an oblong shape with deep creases giving it a slightly wrinkled appearance. The skin is smooth and waxy, ripening from green, pumpkin orange, to a vibrant red once fully mature. Underneath the thick skin, the flesh is red, crisp, and aqueous, encasing a central cavity filled with small, cream-colored seeds. Aji Chombo chile peppers are aromatic and fruity with a fiery, lingering heat.
Aji Chombo chile peppers are available year-round.
Aji Chombo, botanically classified as Capsicum chinense, are a rare variety of chile pepper found growing on bushy plants that can reach up to one meter in height and belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Loosely translated to mean “black pepper” which is a term derived from the pepper’s introduction by Caribbean traders into Panama, Aji Chombo chile peppers are a very hot variety reaching 150,000 to 350,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. Aji Chombo chile peppers are closely related to the habanero and scotch bonnet chile in both appearance and intensity of spice and are primarily used in Panamanian cuisine. In Panama, the fresh peppers are often grown in home gardens and are utilized for their pungent, fruity flavor in hot sauce.
Aji Chombo chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps protect the body from outside aggressors. The peppers also have a high content of capsaicin, which is a compound that not only causes the pepper’s spicy heat and burning sensation but is used in pain-relieving creams and lotions for treating arthritis, nerve pain, and shingles.
Aji Chombo chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as simmering, roasting, or boiling, adding a fiery heat and a fruity flavor to recipes. The peppers can be chopped into salsas, sliced into curries, soups, and stews, or ground and used to flavor marinades and sauces for dishes such as Jamaican jerk chicken. Aji Chombo chile peppers can also be used to add heat to chicken wings or burgers and can be substituted in any recipe calling for habanero or scotch bonnet peppers. Aji Chombo chile peppers pair well with mango, papaya, tomato, onion, lime juice, paprika, poultry, and seafood. The peppers will keep 1-2 weeks when stored whole and unwashed in the refrigerator.
Aji Chombo chile peppers are famously known for their use in Panamanian hot sauces that are made with dry English mustard, onions, spices, and vinegar. Often called Aji Chombo or Chombo Picante, these hot sauces are utilized as a table condiment and are found in restaurants across Panama, used to flavor many different dishes from soups to cooked meats. Aji Chombo is also made from scratch at home in Panama and can be poured over traditional dishes such as fried plantains, goat curry, and pickled eggs. There are many different variations of Aji Chombo with various ingredients heavily influenced by African, Caribbean, and Panamanian flavors.
Aji Chombo chile peppers are native to the Caribbean and Central America and have been cultivated since ancient times. While the exact dates are unknown, experts believe the peppers were directly introduced to Panama via traders and merchant ships from the Caribbean. Today Aji Chombo chile peppers are primarily localized to regions in Central America, especially in Panama, and can also be found through online seed catalogs for home garden use as a specialty pepper variety in the United States.
Recipes that include Aji Chombo Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Capital Cooking||Shrimp and Fish Ceviche with Pixbae|
|Bala Beach||Aji Chombo Sauce|
|Bala Beach||Salsa Picante|