Costeno Rojo, capsicum annuum, is a very hard to find chile in the US. It is also one of the Mexican chiles that is referred to by one name when dried and another when fresh (another being the Jalapeno and Chipotle. When growing fresh, these chiles are typically referred to as “bandeno” (refers to the bank of a river) or “casero” (translates to "homemade"). This chile may also be spelled costena. Costeno chiles are one of three dried varieties of Mirasol chiles, with the other two being the better known guajillo chile and a chile known as de comida.
Chile historians believe that the Costeno Rojo is native to the Jimiltepec area in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, and has long been used to flavor the fiery southern coastal dishes. “Costeño Rojo” roughly translates to “red coastal,” referencing its origin near the seacoast of southwestern Mexico and also differentiating it from the yellow (Amarillo) version of this same chile.
We’ve been looking for a reputable supplier for this particular thin to medium flesh skinned chile for quite some time, as it has been one of the most requested chiles that we did not currently carry on our site. As with most landrace chiles, there are numerous variations and the Costeño Rojo is no exception. Some farmers grow a version that that is about 1.5” long by .5” wide, while others are between “2 to 3” long while being a bit more slender. Our supply comes in at 2.75”- 3” long by 1” - 1.5” wide. No matter where they’re grown, they all tend to be relatively hot and somewhat fruity.
Those who like to cook authentic Mexican dishes with regional chiles such as Ancho, Cascabel, Chipotle, Guajillo and Pasilla will find Costeño Rojo to be an excellent addition in their spice cabinet.
The name Mirasol means "looking at the sun" in Spanish, which describes the way these peppers grow on the plant. Mirasol chiles are native to the central and northern Mexico states of Aguascalientes, Durango and San Luis Potosi.
By the time that Columbus arrived in the Americas, the Azetcs were cultivating jalapeno, chilaca (known as pasilla when dried), poblano (when dried called ancho), serrano, de arbol and mirasol chiles. Bernardino de Sahagun, a Franciscan friar, missionary priest and pioneering ethnographer (one who conducts the systematic study of people and cultures), arrived in New Spain (modern day Mexico) in 1529. He quickly learned the Nahualt (pronounced "nä wätl") language and spent the next 50 years studying the Aztecs and their culture. He described the typical Aztec market as having "hot green chiles, smoked chiles, water chiles, tree chiles, flea chiles and sharp-pointed red chiles. To further illustrate the importance that the Aztecs placed on chiles, they classified them into 6 categories based not only on their level of pungency (low to high), but also on type of pungency (broad to sharp).”
The ancient Aztec, Mayan and Inca civilizations held chiles in such high regard that they withheld them from their diets during religious fasting periods.
Mirasol chiles grow best in arid climates, and this chile plant produces wide hot peppers that grow upright (pointing towards the sun).
This particular cultivar may reach a height of 5' tall and it has many branches starting at ground level. The pods are long, but may be either oval or conical in shape and may be between .75" - 6" long and .4" - 1.2" wide. The body of the pod is cylindrical and very wrinkled. The outer skin is thin and brittle, and when dried becomes transparent. The pods mature from a light green almost yellowish color to a light red. The fruits typically mature in 70 - 80 days.
After extensive research, we’ve found that there is little to no genetic distinction between the costeño amarillo and costeño rojo, and they’ve been known to grow concurrently on the same plants. Once harvested they may be sorted before they’re taken to market.
While the guajillo variety grows best in northern Mexico, Costeño chile production and consumption is concentrated in the South Pacific Region of Guerrero and Oaxaca.
Costeno peppers are grown commercially in Guerrero, Mexico.
This versatile chile plays a starring role in salsa de chile costeno (chile costeno sauce), a fiery red salsa. The chiles are popular in the Oaxaca and Guerrero regions of Mexico, and in addition to salsa are used to add an authentic piquant "boost" to southern Mexican cooked sauces and stews.
Costeno chiles have a nutty complexity with fruity notes, green, soapy undertones and an intense, lingering heat.
Considered a medium heat chile (5,000-15,000 SHU).
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