While not as popular as some of the other Mexican chiles the de Arbol is rarely found fresh. As a whole chile it is about 3” in length, bright red, curved, thin a bit pointed and it has a smooth skin. Many believe that it is related to the cayenne chile and others believe it is related to the Pequin.
The de arbol pepper is considered a hot chile and comes in at 15,000 - 30,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). As a comparison the Chipotle "Morita" (considered amedium heat chile) comes in at a 5,000 -10,000 SHU and the Habanero (considered a crazy hot chile) come in at 150,000 - 325,000 SHU). As with practically all but the mildest chiles it should be handled properly during preparation as the oil in the arbol chile is extremely irritating to the eyes or any small cuts on the hands.
De Arbol chiles are popular in Mexican cuisine due to their bold heat and subtle, smoky flavor. Used frequently in salsas, they are also commonly added to soups, stews, tacos, stir fries and can also be found as a table sauce. Many competition chili chefs find the flavor of the de Arbol peppers to be superior to other chile peppers. We like to use these in place of cayenne chile powder as the de Arbol while being similar in heat has more flavor.
De Arbol chiles have a natural, grassy flavor with a hint of nuttiness. The flavor of De Arbol chile is considered superior to other chile peppers by many competition chili chefs and is considered a staple chile in many southwestern US kitchens.
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