Exploring Fresh Mexican Ingredients
Shopping at Fiesta Mart is often adventurous for me. Many times I visit the store for something very specific for my classes and discover seasonal ingredients I didn’t come across before. Last week, I found four items new for me, cachucha peppers among them.
From wiki: “Ají dulce (South American Spanish ají, “chili” + Spanish dulce, “sweet”), aji cachucha or ajicito, is any of a variety of sweet perennial peppers found in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is most widely known in Venezuela, where it refers to a specific native variety of Capsicum chinense related to the habanero, but with a much milder, smoky flavor. In Venezuela, ají dulce is a key ingredient in the preparation of the national dish of Venezuelan cuisine, the hallaca. In the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, ají dulce or ajicito is grown commercially and used for sauces, such as recaíto, sofrito, and mojito isleño fish or meat sauce, as well as stews, rice, and many local dishes.”
To compare cachucha peppers to other green chili peppers I know, I’d say they are close to Spanish padron or Japanese shishito peppers in terms of texture. They are not meaty and are slightly crunchy when cooked. To my taste, cachucha peppers are very flavorful and complex with clean and fresh grassy note. There is no heat in them at all. Thus their other name is sweet chili, Ají dulce, though they are savory, at least when green.
Modifying This Recipe
Green Mexican chorizo is a regional Mexican specialty and is not available in Central Texas. I suspect it is not even available in Mexico outside the Toluca region. Luckily, we have all the ingredients we need to make it at home, and it’s very easy and quick. Suppose you don’t care for Mexican chorizo (you are missing a lot, trust me!). Make the stuffing with proteins of your choice then, just don’t be shy adding your favorite peppers, herbs, and spices.
Cachucha peppers make an attractive and delicious hot appetizer or small dish when served with chili con queso sauce. You can also serve them floating in a hot chicken broth and name it soup. I bet once you cook and taste them, more great ideas will come to your mind.