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HomeVideoWhy you should use poblanos for more than Mexican food

Why you should use poblanos for more than Mexican food


Poblanos are most often associated with Mexican food, and they are frequently roasted and peeled before eating. I encourage you to think about them for more, especially because they’re available at many grocery stores along with the rest of the fresh peppers. As Maricel E. Presilla writes in “Gran Cocina Latina,” poblanos are “thinner-skinned and more flavorful than the bell pepper.” Those are notable advantages. Moreover, I find poblanos less assertive in the vegetal flavor that some people object to with bell peppers.

Poblanos boast a dark green color, bordering on brown or black. The darker ones pack a richer flavor, according to “The New Food Lover’s Companion” by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. I appreciate their more demure size, too. Triangular-shaped poblanos are typically 2½ to 3 inches wide and 4 to 5 inches long, the Herbsts write. Sometimes the bell peppers at the store are such behemoths that I hesitate to use the whole thing, depending on the recipe.

Of course, poblanos make sense only if you’re okay with spice or don’t mind playing roulette, given their unpredictable nature. I’ve had some poblanos as mild as bell peppers and others that rivaled jalapeño or serrano peppers in heat. “The New Food Lover’s Companion” notes that poblanos typically register between 1,000 and 2,000 on the Scoville scale, which measures the heat of a pepper based on the amount of the chemical compound capsaicin. (By comparison, jalapeños range from 2,500 to 8,000 and serranos 10,000 to 23,000, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.)

With that caveat out of the way, if you’re ready to expand your poblano repertoire, there are a few more things to keep in mind. Presilla recommends buying peppers that are “plump, firm-stemmed, glossy-skinned fruit without discolored or soft spots.” If you have sensitive skin or are concerned about touching potentially hot peppers with your fingers (and then touching your eyes), by all means, use food-safe gloves. I do.

While poblanos are often roasted, peeled and cut into strips to form rajas, you don’t have to take those extra steps. Fresh poblanos can simply be seeded, sliced or diced as you would a bell pepper. If the idea of cooking the peppers first sounds more appealing, check out my guide to roasting peppers.

To help you on your poblano journey, here is a mix of recipes from our archives that call for poblanos and others where they would be just as tasty as the peppers originally specified.



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