The chili pepper is a hardy and diverse plant, with it’s fruit coming in all of the colors of the rainbow. The chili can balance heat with sweetness and flavor with pungency. In some instances, just a pinch of chili pepper is enough to brighten an entire meal and in others, the peppers are the meal.
One of the most common and easy to use peppers is indeed the Fresno chili pepper. Released in 1952 by Clarence Brown, who named the pepper in honor of Fresno, California. And since then, they have been finding their way into hearts and recipes, though they are often labeled as red chili peppers, rather than give Fresno her due.
The Fresno chili has a conical shape, tapering outwards to a flat top on the stem end of the fruit (pictured). Often mistaken for a red jalapeno pepper due to similar size and color, the easiest outward difference to notice is that the jalapeno curves towards the stem, versus the sharper turn of the Fresno. The differences continue inside the pepper, with the Fresno having a much sweeter flavor as well as a slightly stronger heat level than the common jalapeno.
The most common form to find the Fresno chili pepper is fresh whole pods. Due to the thicker flesh of the pepper, Fresnos aren’t often seen in dried form due to the difficulty of efficiently dehydrating the pods. But that doesn’t stop them from being one of the easiest and tastiest peppers to use in any number of cuisines. Indeed, the Fresno chili can be found in foods from as near as Mexico or as far away as Southeast Asia.
And there are many recipes available for the Fresno pepper that can either help to highlight your main ingredient or it can be used as the main ingredient itself. For example, a Fresno chili romesco sauce is a fabulous dip as well as a fabulous accompaniment to roasted meats. Or a Fresno pepper relish, which can be used to daintily top anything from tostadas to chili dogs. The Fresno pepper is also a welcome team member in dishes such as ceviches, salsas, stir frys and just about any recipe that calls for wonderful pepper flavor and just a modicum of that fabulous Fresno pepper burn.
There’s no wrong way to enjoy your Fresno chili peppers, so get out and try some ahora!