How to cook with Dried Thai chili peppers

thai dry chili
Dried Thai chili peppers are small and slender red chili peppers that range from 1 to 3 inches long. They are red or green, and their spiciness can vary from mild to extremely hot. These chili peppers are known for their fruity and slightly sweet taste, with a strong, pungent heat that can linger on the tongue, common in authentic Thai food.

What is a dried Thai chili?

Try Thai chili
Try Thai chili

A dried Thai chile is a type of small, thin, fiery chili pepper that has been dried whole for preservation.

OriginNative to Central and South America
AppearanceTypically small and slender, about 2-3 inches long, red and brown
Flavor profileHot, fruity, and smoky
Heat level50,000 to 100,000 SHU

Origin

Thai chilies are native to Central and South America, but they were introduced to Thailand by Portuguese traders in the 16th century. They are now an essential ingredient in Thai cuisine and used in other Southeast Asian cuisines.

Appearance

Dried Thai red chilis are typically small and slender, about 2-3 inches long. They range in color from bright red to dark brown, and their skin may appear wrinkled or slightly shriveled.

Flavor profile

Thai chilies are known for their intense heat, which can vary depending on the variety and level of ripeness. They have a fruity and slightly smoky flavor that pairs well with other savory and spicy food and ingredients.

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How hot are dried Thai chilies?

Dried chiles can vary in heat level, but they are generally a hot chili type, ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 on the Scoville heat scale.

Nutritional Benefits of dried Thai chili

These peppers are particularly abundant in plant-based antioxidant compounds that provide various health benefits. Capsaicin, which creates the spicy flavor in chili peppers, is one of the most notable compounds – and a powerful antioxidant.

Chili peppers have been linked to several other potential health benefits, such as assisting with weight loss and reducing pain caused by acid reflux. Nonetheless, chili peppers aren’t suitable for everyone since they can cause stomach distress, diarrhea, or abdominal pain for certain people.

What is the difference between dried Thai chili and fresh Thai chili?

A dried Thai chili is dehydrated and has a smokier flavor with a slightly sweeter taste, while a fresh Thai chili is moist and has a brighter, more intense heat. The drying process changes the flavor profile of the chili and makes it easier to store and transport.

How to cook with dried Thai chili?

To cook with dried Thai chile peppers, you first must prep them. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Remove the stems and seeds.
  2. Soak the chilies in hot water for 15-20 minutes to soften/rehydrate (alternatively, you can skip this step and just crush them before adding them to the dish).
  3. Chop or grind the chilies and add them to your desired recipe, such as soups, curries, stir-fries, fried rice recipes, red curry paste, salads, larb, dipping sauces, and marinades. 
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Be careful when handling dried Thai chilies, as they can be very spicy, and wash your hands thoroughly after touching them.

These chili peppers are common in Thai cooking. Here are a few examples of dishes with dried Thai peppers:

Pad Thai: This popular Thai noodle dish often includes dried Thai chilies, which add a bit of heat to the sweet and savory sauce.

Green Curry: This fragrant and spicy Thai curry includes a paste with dried Thai chilies, along with other ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves.

Som Tam: This spicy salad is made with shredded green papaya, tomatoes, and other vegetables, and a dressing that typically includes dried Thai chilies, fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar.

Other condiments with chili include Thai chili paste and Thai dried chili dipping sauce.

Thai chili paste is a versatile condiment made from roasted chili peppers, shrimp paste, garlic, shallots, and palm sugar. The mixture is cooked into a thick and fragrant paste, a base for many Thai dishes, such as stir-fries, soups, and curries.

Thai dried chili dipping sauce is made from toasted and ground-dried chili peppers, fish sauce, lime juice, green onions, cilantro, and sugar. It is commonly served with grilled meats, such as chicken, pork, or beef, and provides a tangy and spicy contrast to the smoky flavors of the grilled meat. The sauce also acts as a marinade or dressing for salads or noodles.

How long does a dried Thai chili last?

The shelf life of various dried peppers refers to the duration for which they retain their optimal aroma and flavor, making them suitable for culinary purposes. 

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Dried peppers can typically last for about 1 to 2 years. Among them, whole dried chili peppers and unground peppercorns have the longest shelf life, persisting for up to 4 years.

How to make dried Thai chili?

To make dried Thai chilies, follow these steps:

  1. Choose fresh Thai chilies that are ripe and have a bright red color.
  2. Rinse the chilies under cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  3. Cut off the stems and discard them.
  4. Slice the chilies into thin rounds using a sharp knife or scissors.
  5. Spread the chili slices on a clean, dry surface like a baking sheet or wire rack.
  6. Place the chilies in a dry, well-ventilated area, such as a sunny windowsill, a balcony, or a patio.
  7. Allow the chilies to air dry for several days, turning them occasionally to ensure even drying. The chilies can take up to a week to dry out completely.
  8. Once the chilies are completely dry and brittle, transfer them to an airtight container, such as a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  9. Store the dried chilies in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. They will keep for several months.

If you wish to speed up the drying process, use a dehydrator or an oven set to its lowest temperature. However, air drying is the traditional method and will produce the best flavor.

What can I substitute for dried Thai chilies?

Red pepper flakes
Red pepper flakes

You can substitute dried Thai chilies with other types of dried chili peppers, such as Cayenne or red pepper flakes. Alternatively, you can use fresh Thai chilies or hot peppers like serrano or jalapeno.

Alexandra

Alexandra is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for food - not just as nourishment but as an expression of culture, a reflection of history, and a celebration of life. She knows that everything in life requires a little spice - and gets a kick (get it?) every time she achieves the perfect combination of heat and depth.

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