Fish Chile Peppers
Inventory, lb : 0
Fish chile peppers are slender, curved, to straight pods, averaging 5 to 7 centimeters in length, and have a conical shape with broad shoulders that taper to a rounded point on the non-stem end. The pods are smooth and waxy, ripening from white to green with dark green stripes, to orange with brown stripes, and finally to a bright red when mature. Underneath the colorful skin, the flesh is thin, pale red or green depending on maturity, and crisp, encasing a central cavity filled with round and flat, cream-colored seeds. Fish chile peppers have a subtle sweetness mixed with intense heat.
Fish chiles are available in the summer through early fall.
Fish chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are a rare, heirloom variety that are members of the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Also known as the Baltimore Fish pepper, Fish chile peppers are rumored to be the result of a cross between a serrano and cayenne pepper and range 5,000 – 30,000 SHU on the Scoville scale. The history of Fish chile peppers is shrouded in mystery, as much of the pepper’s story has been passed down through oral tradition, and the variety was once almost extinct but was saved through a small seed collection that was given from an artist to a beekeeper. In the modern-day, Fish chile peppers are not commercially grown but are known as an ornamental variety grown in home gardens for its variegated leaves and pods. The peppers are also grown through small farms that source the pods to restaurants for use in cream-based sauces and hot sauces.
Fish chile peppers are a good source of vitamins A, C, B, and E, potassium, and calcium. The peppers also contain capsaicin, which is a chemical compound that triggers the brain to feel the sensation of heat or spice and has been shown to help stimulate the circulatory system and contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Fish chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as roasting, stir-frying, baking, and sautéing. When fresh, the peppers can be diced into salsas, marinades, and hot sauces, or they can be tossed into green salads. Fish chile peppers are especially popular in cooked applications when used in their immature state and can add flavor and heat without changing the color of the dish. The peppers can be used in soups, stews, and curries, served in cream-based sauces with seafood, or lightly stir-fried with other vegetables. Fish chile peppers pair well with lime juice, pineapple, white wine vinegar, garlic, onions, scallions, tomatoes, mushrooms, kale, spinach, green beans, pecans, poultry, shellfish, and fish. The fresh peppers will keep 1-2 weeks when loosely stored whole and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Within the mysterious history of Fish chile peppers, the white, immature pods were once used as a secret ingredient only shared verbally between chefs. In the 19th century, white Fish chile peppers were a sought after ingredient among African American chefs and caterers as the pale peppers would not alter the color of sauces. Commonly used in cream-based sauces for seafood, Fish chile peppers added a surprise element of heat to the sauce and were popularly served at oyster, fish, and crab houses. This sauce became one of the most popular flavors in the Mid-Atlantic region, especially in Baltimore, and the pepper was named after fish due to its pleasant flavor pairing. Today Fish chile peppers are still used in secret white sauces at a couple of restaurants in Washington D.C. and Baltimore and are also found pickled or cooked into a separate hot sauce for use as a condiment.
Fish chile peppers are descendants of peppers native to Central and South America and were introduced to the United States through the Caribbean. First recorded in the 1870s, the peppers were a popular cooking ingredient in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The history of their lineage has been passed down predominately through oral tradition, which tells the tale of their use as a pepper popular with African American chefs and home cooks in and around Baltimore and Philadelphia. The peppers are mentioned as an ingredient in many cookbooks printed in the early 1900s, but by the mid-1900s their popularity diminished, and the peppers disappeared from the culinary scene. In the 1940s, the Fish chile peppers were regarded as almost extinct until a few seeds were saved by a folk painter, Horace Pippin who gave the seeds to the beekeeper, H. Ralph Weaver in exchange for bees to treat a medical ailment. Weaver eventually passed the seeds on to his grandson, William Woys Weaver, who then gave the seeds to the Seed Savers Exchange yearbook in 1995, making the unique pepper variety once again available to farms and home gardeners. Any of the Fish chile pepper plants found today are descendants of the seeds that Weaver donated. Fish chile peppers are still somewhat rare and are found at specialty markets and through online seed catalogs for home garden use.
Recipes that include Fish Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Coconut + Lime||Pickled Fish Peppers|