Serrano means “highland” or “mountain” in Spanish so the name of the serrano chile denotes its origin in mountainous regions. Although similar to a jalapeno, they are smaller, hotter, and many people find them to have a fuller and more herbaceous flavor. The pods are from one to four inches long and about 1/2 inch thick, with most pods being on the smaller side (1-2 inches). Immature pods are a light to deep green and they mature to red.
The serrano is probably the hottest fresh chile that is commonly available in the United States, although it is not as widely available as in Mexico. Although to chile pepper aficionados this is only a moderately hot chile pepper, to the casual eater this little chile packs a fiery punch. It is a popular chile in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, where it is often used raw, and often found in fresh salsa. Whether raw or cooked, it is always used fresh, since it does not dry well, its flesh being too thick and “meaty.”
It is also sometimes found pickled, like the jalapeno. In Mexico, it is often called simply chile verde, which means “green chile.” It is also used in Thai cooking. The video below gives the Scoville heat rating of the serrano chile, along some other quick facts about the chile. View it here or watch it on Youtube: Serrano chile Scoville Heat Units: How Hot is It?
Serrano Chile Video Transcript
The seranno chile pepper is a Mexican chile pepper that is common in Mexican cooking, and probably originated in the mountains of Northern Puebla and Hidalgo. These peppers are usually eaten fresh, and resemble a thinner jalapeno, but they are hotter. Although a range of different ratings are given, up to 25,000, they usually cap off at 23,000 Scoville units, and the range of heat is around 5000 to 23,000 Scovilles. Serrano chiles are a pepper of choice for making pico de gallo, or fresh salsa.