Lifestyle & Belief

Name a Mexican city famous for its hot peppers

Chiles Rellenos.jpg

Chiles Rellenos, a favorite dish in the capital of Veracruz, Mexico.

Credit:

Pepe Ochoa

For our Geo Quiz, we're looking for the capital of the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz.

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This city has a long history going back to before the Aztecs. And it has long been known for its hot chili peppers. 

These peppers show up in countless local dishes, like Chiles Rellenos. We're talking green peppers stuffed with salsa and fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico.

Reporter Betto Arcos describes watching local chef Pepe Ochoa prepare to make the dish. "Pepe's about to start making the filling for the chiles, putting the onion in olive oil. So he's throwing in some bay leaf into the onion as its being sauteed." 

Mexican chef Pepe Ochoa is ready to enjoy a plate of home cooking in Jalapa, Veracruz.

Credit:

Pepe Ochoa

"I'm about to have one of these fantastic chiles jalapeños cooked by this fantastic chef from Veracruz. Mmmm," Arcos says. "Amazing! So as I'm eating this, I'm able to taste all of these ingredients that Pepe has put into these chiles: onion garlic, capers, olives, oregano, thyme, dry white wine and then you just dig in like I'm doing right now."

The answer to our Geo Quiz — in case you haven't guessed it yet — is Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, the city that lends its name to Jalapenos.

Pepe says to consider enjoying jalapeños with a glass of wine.

"You'll be sampling a little bit of the flavor of Veracruz and Mexico," he says.

By the way, Betto says he's a Jalapeño too, because he, like the chiles, is from Jalapa.

Here's a recipe for chiles rellenos courtesy of Zarela Martinez:

1 pound fresh green chiles such as jalapeños

1/4 cup olive oil

2 large onions, sliced into thin (1/4-inch) half-moons

20 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled

8 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

8 sprigs fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crumbled

1 teaspoon black peppercorns, bruised

6 bay leaves

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Use a small sharp knife to cut a small X at the tip of chile.  (This will help the marinade penetrate better.)  Place in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring back to a boil over high heat.  Cook for 1 minute; at once drain in a colander and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large, deep skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until not quite smoking.  Add the onions and garlic; cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the oregano, thyme, marjoram, peppercorns, and bay leaves.  Cook,  stirring for 1 minute longer.  Add the chiles, vinegar, and salt.  Bring to a boil, stirring.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.  Transfer to storage containers, distributing the solids and liquid as equally as possible. (Glass jars, nonreactive storage bowls with tight-fitting lids, or leakproof zipper-fastened plastic bags are all good.)  Refrigerate for at least 3 days to let the flavors develop.  The pickled chiles will keep in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 2 months.

Yield: About 3 cups of solids

If you have a bumper crop of jalapenos, pickling is the way to go even though you can roast a few and put them in baggies unpeeled, in the freezer and take them out as needed.

Tuna filling:

2 – 3 cans high quality tuna if available

½ cup finely chopped red onion

½ cup chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons or more of freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Flake the tuna with a fork and combine with the remaining ingredients.  Let sit for an hour in the refrigerator for the flavor to meld.

Drain the chiles and carefully scoop out any remaining chiles, stuff with the salad and pour the pickled carrots, onions and garlic over the chiles