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I've seen some recipes call for chili peppers to be roasted until the skin is charred but not burnt, and then peeled.

How does this change their flavour? (Do they become hotter?) Should the skins be discarded, or do they contain some flavour on their own?

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Whatever method you use, take great care! Even small amounts of smoke from burning chilli can be very disturbing to the lungs and to the general nerve system – TFD Aug 12 '11 at 13:44
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I am not sure if you are confusing roasting with charring but both are the same basically, though roasting the pepper by charring the skin would be a more accurate nomenclature.

Roasting brings smokiness to the pepper and softens its bite. It allows you to remove skin more easily. When you char the outside of dried peppers in a dry skillet with spices, then soak, it allows you to remove the pith more constructively than tearing it open and it adds depth to the flavor.

For fresh peppers they become somewhat less spicy, for dried peppers it allows them a more expressive flavor (think of roasted sesame or pumpkin seeds or coffee beans for a comparison). Roasted peppers add a different dynamic than their raw counterpart and you should definitely look into the difference (if you enjoy chipotles end adobo you already have a taste for them without knowing it).

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I've always understood that the purpose of charring them is the ability to take the skin off easily... And if you've ever not perfectly charred a pepper, you'll find that part of the skin sticks... I believe that charring a pepper takes some of that raw acrid taste off of it, but the purpose of charring it is to remove the skin easily.

To your last question, if you char the skin, you'll find it kind of turns to black mush... It's not appetizing :)

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