The classic Tex-Mex hot chile and one of the world's best-known. Originally grown in Mexico, the jalapeño is named for Jalapa, a town in the state of Veracruz. The fresh chile has a strong, vegetal flavor to go with the heat. Although many Americans prefer to cook with fresh jalapeños, the jalapeño is most widely consumed in the United States in its pickled form. Red jalapeños are common in the fall.
When dried and smoled, jalapeños are called chipotles.
The smaller serrano can make a good substitute but may pack a little more heat.
Choose chiles that are shiny and firm pods with strong, uniform color. They should feel dense and heavy for their size. Avoid chiles that are flaccid, wrinkled, bruised, blemished, or discolored.
It's wise to wear rubber gloves when handling hot chiles so you don't get any juice on your face or in your eyes. Stem before using. Leave seeds in or out depending on what recipe suggests or your preference.
Keep refrigerated in the vegetable crisper drawer where they will last a week or more.