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Mar 20, 2011 11:42 AM

What green chiles are used in Chinese cooking?

It's driving me nutso! I've Googled it without any real definite result. I keep getting Mexican food answers, which are clearly not what I want.

As it note, if it works for you, you may be interested to know that Google results are not always the same for everyone (more on that in their official announcement):

So anyway, I have looked at this recipe:

and this recipe:

... and neither say what kind of chiles they are.

Am I to assume that it really doesn't matter, so long as they are green and they are chiles? Or are they specific (yet not specified) chile types?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

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  1. Usu. either serranos or Thai chili (aka Thai bird chili or prik chi fa) are used when a recipe calls for "green chili".

    Green chili peppers are added for their heat, and not necessarily just for color or sweetness, which is why green chili peppers like poblanos are not used.

    Hope that helps.

    Pic below of Thai chili.

    1 Reply
    1. There first recipe is from an Indian source. It only calls for 1tsp of finely chopped green chiles. Any small hot green one would work. Note the recipe also calls for bell peppers (capsicum).

      The second says 'It can be made either spicy or mild according to the variety of the green chili pepper used.' The pictured ones are similar to large green ones that I see in a Korean grocery. But the recipe should work just as well for mild Anaheims or hot Hatch green chiles.

      These are very different uses of chiles - one where they provide the heat, and other they are the main item.

      4 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        Yes, that first one is at an Indian site, but the recipe is Chinese according to the source at the bottom of the page. Also, the Schezuan sauce ingredient is another clue. It appears to match various standard Chinese spicy garlic recipes that I found online, since I too was wondering about that. It sounds so good though, doesn't it?

        That said thanks for the pepper tips. I've not heard of hatch chiles, I'll have to check that one out. :)

        1. re: magnoliasouth

          There is such a thing as Indian-Chinese cooking - i.e. Chinese dishes as interpreted by Indians.

          1. re: paulj

            Ah! This is good to know. I sort of figured that, since there is a geographic connection. I also was surprised to see so many Chinese recipes by Indians. Now I know. Thanks for sharing!

            1. re: magnoliasouth

              There was thread not too long about Indian-Chinese cooking. It is particularly strong around Kolkata.

              A search on Kolkata in General turned up this

      2. In Chinese cooking, do they use more dried chiles and peppercorns and chile oils than they do fresh chiles?

        8 Replies
        1. re: c oliver

          Yes, but I often see fresh Jalapenos or Serrano used in the Sichuan place around here usually in combo with dried chilies. Cumin lamb for example

          1. re: chefj

            So in the US, are we substituting "our" peppers for "theirs"?

            1. re: c oliver

              Theirs were originally ours (all chile peppers came from the Americas).


              In tropical climates like Thailand, chiles ripen at any time of the year, so green ones can be used year around. In Central China, the harvest is seasonal, so dried ones are more common.

              1. re: paulj

                Interesting. So 'spicy' Chinese food comes from the US???

                1. re: c oliver

                  No, But the all Capsicums originally came from the Americas.

                  1. re: chefj

                    Right! I was about to say that. This I knew.

                    It reminds me of Italian tomato sauces. People always want authentic Italian tomato sauces and it really depends on how authentic you want to go, since tomatoes originated also in the Americas.

                    Food is always "evolving" due to availability.

              2. re: c oliver

                Another way to look it: fresh ones don't store or ship well. The only 'foreign' fresh chiles that I see in the groceries are from Mexico. Of course you can easily find dried Chinese chiles and condiments in Asian groceries.

                Anyways, if a Chinese restaurant in the US wants to use green chiles they either have to find a local grower, or find a workable substitute (such as jalapeno or serano).

          2. Dried chile de arbor is used in most Chinese cooking

            1 Reply
            1. re: CDollarsign

              Hunan and Sichuan Chilies are the dried chilies usually found in Most Chinese preparations. Chili de Arbol could be used as substitute but tend to be hotter and less flavorful.

            2. In India they use a long green chili that is skinny ,about 4- 7 inches long and is hot but not bird (Thia) chili hot.
              As I stated below most Chinese applications use either Jalapenos or Serrano when calling for fresh green chili.
              I think that most Asian recipes call sweet peppers "Capsicums"