Rocoto Chile Peppers
Inventory, lb : 0
Rocoto chile peppers generally have a bulbous, oval to pear shape, averaging 5 to 7 centimeters in diameter, but can widely vary in size and shape depending on its growing environment. The peppers appear very similar to and can sometimes be mistaken for small bell peppers, roma tomatoes, or small apples. The skin is smooth, taut, and glossy, ripening from green to dark red when mature. Underneath the surface, the flesh is thick, crisp, aqueous, and pale red, encasing a central cavity filled with many small, round and flat, black seeds. Rocoto chile peppers initially have sweet and fruity, grassy flavor followed by a moderate to hot level of spice.
Rocoto chile peppers are available in the late summer through fall.
Rocoto chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum pubescens, are a rare variety that belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Also known as Locoto peppers, Rocote peppers, Manzano peppers, and Caballo peppers, Rocoto chile peppers are native to South America and are grown in the high elevations of the Andes Mountains. Rocoto chile peppers are considered to be one of the oldest pepper varieties that are still cultivated today and can be found in varying colors, including orange, yellow, and red, with red being the most popular color found in the markets. The peppers have a moderate to hot level of spice ranging from 30,000-100,000 SHU on the Scoville scale, with the hottest peppers sharing a heat similar to a habanero. Unlike other pepper varieties that require warm temperatures to grow, Rocoto chile peppers thrive in mild, colder climates, making it somewhat difficult to cultivate outside of mountainous regions in Mexico and South America. This species is well known for its flavor and spiciness, as well as its characteristic black seeds. Rocoto chile peppers are a staple pepper of Peruvian cuisine and are used throughout the country in both raw and cooked preparations, especially in sauces and salsas.
Rocoto chile peppers are an excellent source of calcium, potassium, folic acid, and vitamins A, C, and E, which are antioxidants that can help build collagen and protect the immune system. The peppers also contain capsaicin, which is a chemical compound that triggers the brain to feel spice or heat and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Rocoto chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as roasting, grilling, and baking. The peppers can be diced and tossed into salads, sliced and served as an accompaniment to sandwiches and burgers, chopped into salsas, or blended into hot sauces. It is important to note that capsaicin oil can linger on the skin and irritate the eyes and nose, so gloves are recommended to be worn when handling the peppers. Rocoto peppers are also used to add spice and can be tossed whole into soups, stews, and chilis, diced and mixed into grilled meat for tacos, or topped over pizza. In addition to flavoring cooked applications, Rocoto chile peppers are pickled to create a sweet, tangy, and slightly sour flavor. Rocoto chile peppers pair well with onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, cheeses such as cotija, jack, and Oaxaca, meats such as beef, pork, fish, and poultry, eggs, olives, herbs such as Mexican oregano, cilantro, parsley, and coriander, avocado, and lime. The fresh peppers will keep up to one week when stored whole and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
In Peru, Rocoto chile peppers are widely found in local markets stacked in large, colorful piles for use in everyday culinary preparations. One of the most popular preparations, known as Rocoto rellenos, are peppers traditionally stuffed with chopped meats and cheeses. The thick walls of the pepper create a juicy, spicy, and dense meal, and ingredients such as potatoes, peanuts, queso fresco, black olives, raisins, eggs, and meats such as beef, poultry, or fish are commonly chopped and stuffed into the cavity of the pepper. Rocoto chile peppers are also popularly blended into sauces with the most well-known being Huacatay hot sauce and are used a table condiment at Peruvian restaurants, especially for spooning over roasted chicken, sandwiches, and potato gratin. Beyond the flesh of the pepper, some Peruvians use the black seeds as a spice similar to black pepper. The seeds are dried, ground into a powder, and used sparingly as they also contain a spicy kick.
Rocoto chile peppers date back to the ancient civilizations of the Andes mountain regions found within Chile, Peru, and Argentina and have been cultivated for at least 5,000 years. Today Rocoto chile peppers are primarily cultivated in South America and are grown in high elevation regions of Central America and Mexico, including the areas of Guerrero, Queretaro, and Chiapas. The peppers are also found through specialty markets in southern California.
Recipes that include Rocoto Chile Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Mind Body Green||Peruvian Artichoke Heart Salad|
|Que Rica Vida||Stuffed Peruvian Rocoto|