A few years ago while on assignment for VT, I interviewed a diverse cross-section of professional chefs and cookbook authors and asked them to share some of their favorite finds from ethnic food markets. (The resulting article can be found here: Passport to Flavor.) Was I surprised to discover that nearly every one of them included chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on their must-buy list? Not even remotely!
Chipotle peppers are jalapeños that have been allowed to fully ripen on the vine before being smoked over a wood fire. To transform them into the mildly spicy, seductively smoky, and deeply delicious “adobo” peppers that cooks universally love, they’re simmered until soft in a garlicky tomato sauce that gets a little extra zing from vinegar, then packed in little cans for our edible enjoyment.
Chipotles in adobo sauce are becoming more widely available at mainstream markets, where they’re most often found alongside the enchilada sauce and refried beans in the Latin-American foods aisle. To use them, begin by letting your imagination run wild; what would benefit from an extra dash of earthy spice? Soups? Dips? Marinades? Yes! I like to add a minced chipotle or two to a pot of bean chili to give it extra depth of flavor. And the red sauce that the peppers are packed in makes a tasty, barbecue-style rub for tofu, tempeh, or seitan. I even spread a bit of it on sandwiches in place of (or along with) mustard and mayo. It’s that good.
For more chipotle-fueled inspiration, try these VT recipes:
Aurelia d’Andrea’s passion for travel is deeply intertwined with her love of food. Whether in Perth, Prague, or Phnom Penh, she always gravitates toward local markets in search of edible treasures, and takes pleasure in recreating tasty travel memories at home in her tiny Parisian kitchen.