During the pandemic I decided I’d throw a little extra support to Rick Bayless on his YouTube channel and do the paid membership thing. He’s supporting his staff by thinking outside the box – something I applaud. Membership includes access to videos that are just for members, and one of them dealt with a salsa made with a particular type of chile – Pasilla de Oaxaca or Pasilla de Oaxaqueño. Think smoky chipotle, but bigger and with a slightly more robust flavor. I was in the USA when I first saw the video so I searched online, found a store that sells them (https://www.thechileguy.com/product/pasilla-de-oaxaca-1lb-whole-pods/) and bought a pound. If you like smoky things, and you enjoy a chipotle now and again, these are something you should consider tracking down!
When I came home, I thought long and hard about bringing my stash of them with me, but by the time I’d packed my suitcase there was literally no room left. Plus, there’s always that chance the customs person likes them as much as I do and would confiscate them on arrival! And I thought, “I’ll be in México! How hard will it be to find them when I have a huge mercado just a 15 minute walk away!”. Ha ha ha ha ha! It’s hard. The main mercado in Mazatlán has a big chile stall with lots of chiles – but not these. When I asked for them, all they had were something that looked similar, but not smoked. When I asked about the smoked ones, nope – this is what they had. No offer to order some for me or point me to another source.
So when I was in the mercado in Colonia Juárez I found the biggest chile vendor and asked. After some discussion, this vendor told me they call them ‘Pasilla Mixe’ chiles. Come back Tuesday was the response. Tuesday I got a, “Come back Friday”. Friday they sold me FOUR of the chiles and if I wanted more I was told, “Come back Monday”. Ok, so now I know that we are talking about the same chile so I told myself ‘one more time’, and if they don’t have them I’ll just give up (or go to Oaxaca and buy some myself)! I also have been asking them about caraway seeds. You would think (incorrectly, as it turns out) that with the German influence here there would be caraway seeds for sale. Nope. Nope. Nope. Friday I got the same ‘come back Monday’ response.
Today is Monday. I hopped on a bus that said Juárez, and it took me to the mercado (get off the bus when you see the big head – the mercado is across the street!). Wound my way to the chile vendor. She looked at me and said there were no caraway seeds. Then she pulled a giant bag of chile’s out and asked me how much I wanted! Woooo!!! She had a kilo of them, and I bought half. Together with a big piece of ginger my total was $216 pesos, or about $11 usd. I did a happy dance as I walked home (about 8,000 steps according to my fitbit)! I was so happy that I stopped at the suaves factory and bought a bag! Still sad no caraway, but I have enough chiles to last me 6 to 12 months! If you’re in Mazatlán and want some, you need to hurry to the mercado in Juárez and snag them!
** if you are a member on Rick Bayless’s YouTube channel, the title of the video with the salsa is: Essential Salsa: Oaxacan Pasilla Salsa.