Puya Chile Sauce
Puya Chiles often get overlooked in favor of flashier chiles. Habaneros are hotter and cuter, jalapeños are a known workhorse, and chipotles have heat and rich, fragrant smoke. But Puya Chiles have a terrific flavor profile; it’s time to pull them to the front of the spice cabinet and appreciate them for their fruity, fun, surprisingly bold taste.
Everything in this sauce works together to build layered and complex flavors, even though the ingredients are incredibly simple. Pairing Korintje Cinnamon with toasted Puya Chiles brings out their playfully aromatic sweetness. Combining canned tomatoes with Tomato Powder may sound like overkill, but it highlights the fruity nature of the tomato, adding a deep, earthy berry flavor. The Ground Cumin provides even more earthy depth. Sweet Smoked Paprika enhances any smokiness the Puya Chiles picked up from the skillet, and fresh cilantro brightens the whole package like a bow on top of a birthday present.
When we started working on this recipe, the first word that came to mind was versatility. We wanted to use Puya Chiles in an enchilada sauce, or enjoyed as a dip with chips. We wanted them spread over chips for a plate of nachos, or dressed up with an egg for breakfast Chilaquiles. We aimed for a recipe that would be as much at home on pizza as it would be stirred over shredded chicken and roasted. We think we found it.
- 6 Puya Chiles
- 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons Fine Sea Salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon Korintje Cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 16 oz can whole tomatoes, with juice
- 2 teaspoons Tomato Powder
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Sweet Smoked Paprika
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Remove stem and seeds from Puya Chiles and toast them, without oil, in a medium heat pan until fragrant. Simmer chiles in water to cover, with 1 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt and ½ teaspoon Korintje Cinnamon for 20 to 30 minutes or until soft. Drain chiles, reserving chile water for later use.
2. Sauté onions in vegetable oil, over medium heat, until translucent but not browned. Add minced garlic and sauté, stirring for 30 seconds. Then add tomatoes and their juice, Tomato Powder, Ground Cumin, remaining Fine Sea Salt, and Smoked Sweet Paprika, and cook over medium low heat for 20 minutes.
3. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor, including 1 cup of the chili water and the fresh cilantro and process until smooth. It may be necessary to add more chili water if the sauce is too thick.