© Denzil Green
When this pepper is fresh, it is called the Chilaca. The Chilaca Chile Pepper plants grow an average of 3 feet tall (about 1 metre) and produce about 20 peppers per plant. The peppers are thin and dark-green, anywhere from 6 to 14 inches (15 to 35 cm) long. When fully ripe, the pepper turns to a dark brown.
You’ll encounter this more often in its dried form, when it is called a “Pasilla.” Dried, it turns a dark, reddish, wrinkled brown — in appearance, its skin looks like a raisin.
When fresh, Chilaca is mostly used in fresh salsas. When dried, Pasillas are mostly used in cooked sauces; they almost always make an appearance in a Mole sauce recipe.
Almost all Chilacas and Pasillas are imported from Mexico. There, two of the more popular varieties are “Pabellon One” and “Apaseo.”
Chile heat: Mild. Between 1,000 and 1,500 Scoville Units.
Literature & Lore
Pasilla means “little raisin” in Spanish. In Western Mexico it is sometimes called “chile negro”, illustrating a confusion of pasillas with anchos that also happens in America, where they sometimes get called anchos.