I use both variations of this simple chile paste regularly. Refrigerated, they will keep for months. The first adds complexity and depth of flavor to chili, tacos, stews, marinades, etc. The second is prefect in Eastern style dishes, particularly stir fry, rice or noodles dishes, and as a dipping sauce. Pick evenly dried chiles that are uniform in color, with no cracks. They should be slightly thick but pliable.
- 3-4 dried chiles, mild or hot depending on your taste
- Hot water
Variation II additions:
- Salt to taste
- 2-3 Tbsp. sugar or to taste
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- Generous splash of rice vinegar
Wash chiles thoroughly. Cut off stems and make a slice down the side to open up the chile and shake out the seeds (don’t worry if a few stay in). If you have a griddle use it to roast the chiles evenly on both sides for a few minutes. If not, bake in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Place the roasted chiles in a large bowl and cover with hot water. If they float, I generally use a smaller bowl nested inside to keep the chiles submerged. Soak for 30-1 hour or until the chiles have plumped up with water and are very soft. Reserve the liquid. Puree the chiles (if you are making the second variation, add the rest of the ingredients now) in a blender or food processor for about 5 minutes, adding enough of the reserved liquid to make a smooth, even paste. Taste the soaking liquid. If it is bitter, toss it, but if not it can be used in place of water or stock in Chili, stew, etc.