Fresh Chiles, Hot & Cool

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There are days when you want to take it easy and enjoy your favorite comfort food. Others, you just have to turn up the volume.  For Rick, that means breaking out the chiles—everything from the Yucatán’s beloved habañero with its one-two punch of flavor and heat, to the tamer hot yellow xcatic chiles.

A type of chile that is yellow in color with a very hot flavor.  They can be used to add spice to many types of dishes and are often added whole to flavor foods as they cook or added as a garnish.  Xcatic chiles are native to the Yucatán area of Mexico.  Substitutes for the xcatic chile include yellow wax peppers and/or guero peppers.

Rick turns a bumper crop of habañeros into vinegary Habañero Hot Sauce, Tomate Frito and Xnipec Salsa and then shows how they all pair well with grilled fish!

Xnipec Salsa:

  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lime or sour orange juice
  • 6 radishes, chopped into small dice or matchsticks
  • ½ fresh habanero chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • A dozen or so large sprigs of cilantro, chopped
  • Salt

Scoop the onion into a strainer and rinse under cold water.  Shake off as much water as possible, then transfer to a small bowl and stir in the juice.  Add the remaining ingredients, season with salt, usually about ½ teaspoon, and it's ready.  Makes 1 cup.

We visit the Mérida market for a fresh chile lesson, explore the limestone fields where the habañeros thrive and then hold our breath for a spicy tour of a habañero hot sauce factory.

At the Bayless home, chiles are just as likely to show up on scrambled eggs as they are in pot roast.  Rick makes a mouthwatering version of Asado de Puerco con chile guero, platano y piloncillo (Pot Roasted Pork with Yellow Chiles, Plantains and Piloncillo) with yellow chiles, plantains and a hint of brown sugar.  Good morning, Yucatán!



It's a Shore Thing:  Seafood dishes that capture everything that's perfect and irresistible about a day at the beach.

Fusion Revolution: Mexican cooking might even be called the original "fusion cuisine."

Quest for Fire:  Rick can't resist the kind of well-seasoned, simple food grilled over a fire pit Mexican food is famous for.

The Capital of Hip:  Rick takes us on a dawn-to dusk culinary tour of Mexico City that separates the hip from the hype.

Eat, Drink & Be Mérida:
Fusion of Mayan traditions with Spanish influences resulted in Mérida—the "Paris of Mexico."

Yesterday, Today & Tamales:  Mexico's past is present everywhere you travel in the form of tamales.

Yucatan Snack-a-Thon:
Who wouldn't like to snack from dawn to dusk on all kinds of Yucatecan specialties?

Modern Mayan:  Mayan culture is experiencing a rebirth in the Yucatán today—in revitalized food, art and architecture.

Paste Sensations: Mérida's colorful, aromatic essential seasoning pastes are the key flavoring for many of the region's dishes.

Hacienda Renaissance: The hacienda is being reborn—as museums, as production facilities for fine rums and liqueurs, and as luxury hotels.


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