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Jan 9, 2012 07:00 PM

Help me identify tiny beans and chiles purchased in Yucatan!

I was in Valladolid, and went to the Mercato Municipale. Many vendors were selling these tiny little red beans, maybe 1/8" x 1/16". Seriously small, more like a seed than a bean. I bought a bag, plus what the hell are they? Each bean has a small white strip.

Also, I bought some dried chiles and can't figure what those are, either. They're bright red, around 3/4" long and 1/2" wide. I've looked up many varieties and none look like this.

Any ideas?

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  1. I have never heard of a bean that small. Your description sounds like annatto seeds which when ground are achiote and are common in the Yucatan, but I don't know about the white strip.

    1. Your beans sound like adzuki beans, which are tiny (about 5mm) and have a white strip along the top.

      Your chiles are probably simojoveles, native to Chiapas but also grown and used in the Yucatan.

      1. Do your beans look like the photo below?

        If so, they are called Rosario beans. I bought a bag of them in Campache about a year ago. At first I thought they were rice, but the vendor said they were beans and said they were called Rosario. We asked her the name several times to be sure we'd heard it correctly. So I'm reasonally certain that , at least in Campeche, they are called Fijol Rosario. I have never seen them and they aren't included in Ricardo Muñoz's Enciclopedia, which is the "go-to" reference for all things related to Mexican cuisine.

        I cooked mine and they don't get appreciably larger than they already are. The flavor reminded me a cross between a pinto bean and a kidney bean and they were fairly creamy. A word of caution, they do seem to cook up more quickly than regular dried beans so be careful not to overcook them.

        I really like that market in Valladolid. It's extremely clean and the vendors have some pretty interesting stuff.

        Can you post a picture of the chile?

        4 Replies
        1. re: DiningDiva

          Yes, those are the beans – simojoveles! They do look like adzuki beans but are less round - more long and skinny. I googled rosario beans and ... nothing. So interesting. They vendor just called them frijolitos.

          And Cristina, yes, the chile are simojoveles! I found this photo online and it's exactly the same. Now....what the hell should I do with them? I'm hosting a big Mexican dinner this weekend, so I think I will make salsa with them, if that's the best use. (I will also post this question on the home cooking board!).

          Thanks for all your help.

          1. re: cathyeats

            Funnry, Cathy, that is a photo I took last May at a big food festival in Morelia, Michoacán! The photo appeared in this Mexico Cooks! article: I was going to post the photo here last night but figured you would google it!

            Cathy, it tickles me that you found my photo. It might be the only photo of simojoveles on the Internets. Here's a traditional Chiapanecan recipe using the chiles, which aren't usually used for salsa, but for seasoning. The little chile is very mild.

            2 lbs fatty beef*
            *the cut is called suadero
            1 large tomato
            1 white onion
            6 small potatoes
            3 carrots
            2 garlic cloves
            1 tsp achiote
            1 sprig epazote
            10 simojovel chiles
            2 Tbsp oil
            Salt to taste

            Wash the meat well, cut it into pieces, and grill it. Then put it in a pressure cooker with water and salt and cook for approximately one hour.

            Meanwhile, fry the achiote in the oil, and when it gives up its color, take the achiote out of the skillet. Sauté the garlic, onion, and tomato in the same oil. Next, put everything else in the same pan: the whole or sliced potatoes, the sliced carrots, the toasted and ground chiles, the epazote, and the salt. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes and serve very hot.

            This is a really sketchy recipe, taken from the book "Comida Tradicional de San Cristóbal de las Casas" by Dolores Sánchez de Pineda, published in 1988. Good luck!


            1. re: cristina

              That recipe sounds good, but I can't eat red meat. But I'll probably put some of the peppers into a mole sauce I'm making this weekend.

              HILARIOUS that I found your photo, Cristina!

            2. re: cathyeats

              I couldn't find anything on Rosario beans either. I suspect it probably goes by various names depending on the location. I haven't seen them anywhere else other than the Yucatan.

          2. When I bought those beans they were called Rice beans. I think they are not native. they have a rather thick skin and starchy texture but they cook fast.