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Mar 7, 2012 04:09 AM

Poblano chiles in the UK? Equivalent flavour?

Has anyone ever come across poblano chiles in the UK? I haven't seen any yet, but I am dying to make my favorite poblano chile rice, like I used to make back home in California. The recipe calls for fresh poblanos that are boiled.
I am not holding out much hope for finding poblanos, but does anyone know a chile that has a similar flavor profile to a poblano? I mainly remember that the fresh ones have a 'green' taste to them, while being mild. I don't really remember if they have any sweet qualities to them though (how sad! and I've only been here for 6 months). Would a bell pepper approximate? I have access to lots of middle eastern, Indian and Turkish grocers. Any help in leading me on the path back to that most wonderful, glorious rice would be much appreciated!

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  1. I have no idea of where to find poblano chiles in the UK. I grew up with Mexican food and lived in the Middle East for 8 years and at a certain point I started carrying bags of jalapeƱos and poblanos (and a few bags of varieties of dried chiles, canned tomatillos, MX style camarones secos, and MX oregano) back in my suit case. I actually could get jalapeƱos there, but they were at the expensive expat grocer and cost like $10 for a few chiles. And as far as chiles available to me there, I had a huge variety from all over South Asia, the Middle East, and South East Asia...but none are quite like Mexican chiles. Subs don't really come close enough. You can experiment with other chiles but it won't be quite the same.

    You can see if a Mexican or Latin American grocery which might carry your chiles is anywhere near to you...I know there are Mexican people in the UK. Aside from that, you could wait until a friend visits from the US and request that your friend bring some.

    1. It sort of depends on what flavor in the poblano appeals to you. You mention the "green" flavor - I know exactly what you mean - and this is present in many green chiles from green bell peppers to green jalapenos or serranos. A bell pepper would approximate, but it would add sweetness. Anaheims would be less sweet, but you probably don't find those either.

      Ancho chiles are dried red poblanos. You can get them whole and in powder form. It will give you the poblano flavor, but more on the red side than green. Anchos are easy to find in the US.

      Another thought to add to luckyfatima is to find a Mexican, CA, or Southwestern (US) restaurant and ask if they will sell you a pepper.

      And in the US it is easy to buy frozen chiles. If you can find frozen poblanos, they might either have been frozen raw or roasted. If raw, you can thaw and use like you normally do. Roasted, iMO, will make for a better rice (boiled chile? shudder :-). ) Just thaw and chop and either cook with the rice or put in near the end.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ttochow

        The problem is, I live in the UK, so having someone send me (or personally bringing) the chiles back would probably land me in customs turmoil. I have found a supplier of a variety of dried Mexican chiles, including anchos, but still no fresh ones. I've had similar problems finding fresh tomatillos here too :( I guess I will just have to do a bunch of sampling.

        Don't knock the boiled chiles in the rice until you've tried it! I roast my own chiles often, but doing that is not right for this dish.

        1. re: Balcasaurus

          I was teasing about the boiled chiles! I understand. My mother used to make stuffed bell peppers by boiling them, and somehow roasting them instead would not invoke the memories that make the dish good.

          Anyway, I meant for you to see if you could find the UK equivalent. I think your best bet might be the frozen route. As I understand it, a LOT of peppers are grown in Holland so you might find something more local. Or at least might find a local pepper that is green, mild, and not sweet.

          1. re: ttochow

            Hmm, yeah, I will check out the frozen availability here. The kicker is, there is actually a chile shop in my town, but they stock Asian chiles and a couple Peruvian varieties. Nothing mild though. Gah! If only I had tried smuggling seeds and gotten started growing last summer!

            1. re: ttochow

              If I want Peruvian chiles - usually aji amarillos - I have to go to a local international grocery store and get them in the frozen food section.

              I forgot to mention that New Mexico variety chiles also have the green taste - perhaps more of it - and are mild to my tongue. I've had some poblanos that have been hotter, anyway. There is some popular fascination with NM chiles, so you might find them somewhere.

          1. Google indicates there are at least a couple of online suppliers in the UK offering poblano chillis.

            1. Maybe the Cool Chile Co might be able to help:

              Heck, you'd only have to buy one (rather overpriced) batch before you can start growing your own!