Penzeys Spices recently opened a new branch in Santa Monica, which is very handy or very dangerous, depending on how you look at it. When it comes to chile peppers, it can be both. We have a pretty good selection of both dried and fresh chiles in Los Angeles, between the farmers markets and the Asian and Hispanic shops. I’d never seen these before though: the chiles on the left are Tien Tsin chiles from China; those on the right are Dundicuts from Pakistan. According to Penzeys, both chiles score about 60,000 on the Scoville heat unit scale, which gives them about half the fire of Piquin peppers, the hottest chile that Penzeys carries, and ten times that of Guajillos. So, hot enough but not deadly. They’re seriously gorgeous–the Tien Tsin’s look a lot like chiles de Arbol, while the Dundicuts resemble smaller Cascabels or the hard-to-find Spanish Ñora peppers (btw, you can find Ñoras at La Espanola, a great Spanish importer in Harbor City). The chiles have a fantastic aroma, floral and pungent at the same time. A full fire report will have to come later, when I add them to stews and soups, tacos, maybe a nice sauce.
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