|Japones Chiles, pronounced ja-pon-aaas, are also known as Hontaka, Santaka, Oriental chile peppers or Chinese Chiles. While very popular in Chinese and Japanese recipes these chiles are native to Mexico and are widely used in Caribbean and Latin American cuisine. Some believe that Japones get their name from the Spanish word for Japanese.
The cuisines of southeastern Asia tend to gravitate towards using chiles that do not have complex flavor profiles. This allows better balance with the heavy usage of the very flavorful and widely used spices cilantro, garlic and lemongrass. Chiles are used more for pure simple heat.
In Hong Kong markets you’ll find large bags of chiles ubiquitously labeled “Chinese Chiles”. These chiles tend to be either Thai chiles or Japones chiles and they are quite popular in the local crab shacks and dim sum houses. Japones are a key ingredient in Sichuan, or Szechuan, cuisine.
This versatile chile is one of the most common dried red chiles and in larger urban areas can be found relatively easily in various Mexican bodegas as well as Indian, Korean and other Asian markets. You’ll often find these in bulk bins and they are almost always missing their caps and stems.
The Japones Chile (Capsicum Annuum) is a small, pointed chile, 2” long and ½” wide. The Japones resembles the De Arblo in appearance but the walls of the Japones are thicker and meatier.
Considered a hot chile the Japones comes in at between 15,000 and 30,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). You get approximately 35 chiles per ounce.
The Japones chile has a very clean and biting taste and the dried version has a more distinctive taste than the fresh as the drying process tends to intensify the flavor.
You’ll find these fiery chiles used in chutneys, salsas, sauces, and stir-fries. They are frequently steeped in vegetable oils to release and enhance their flavor. Japones are wonderful when used to infuse oils or when added to breads. In this country these are the most used chiles in Hunan and Sichuan cuisines.
We especially like these in Hot Peanut Sauces, Thai Basil Curry dishes, Vegetable Jalfrezi and in Kung Pao Chicken.
We also carry a growing selection of other hot chiles including Aji Amarilo, De Arbol, Tien Tsin and Pequin.