11/04/2011 11:24 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Cut And Seed Chile Peppers

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Watch this video to learn what precautions to take when handling chiles, and how to cut and de-seed them.

Video Transcript

I'm Chef Brannon Soileau from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to work with hot chiles.

This is a Serrano chile pepper we're using today. It's one of the hotter ones. Until you understand your skin, and how your oils and body react to chile peppers, you may want to consider wearing gloves. Remember, it's just to prevent the oils of the chile pepper from touching your skin.

For this one we're going to cut it directly in half all the way through both sides, and then we're going to lay them open just so. And what we're going to do is remove any of the white pith from inside the chile pepper, and also any of the

seeds. The seeds and pith, the inside membranes of the chile, are where the real heat is contained. Depending on the application of your recipe, and how you want to use the chile, it would certainly be all right to use the pith and the seeds - but for most applications you'll want to remove the seeds and the pith. For one thing, the seeds aren't that great to eat; they kind of get caught in your teeth, and they don't digest very well. So most recipes call for you to remove the pith and the seeds.

I've made small insertions around the actual pith, and I'm just going to move the chile around slowly and use my knife to remove that pith and remove those seeds. If there are any caught inside that channel I will remove them. Now you end up with the flesh of the chile pepper.

If I was going to use these for a cold application or a salad, I would probably cut them in very fine strips, so they don't dominate the dish I'm working with. And then I would turn those strips on their sides and I would mince. For maybe a cold preparation - a dungeness crab jalapeno salad, something like that - you wouldn't want to put a jalapeno that's massive into a salad that's delicate like that. It'll dominate it, it'll ruin it. On the other hand, maybe I'm going to make a salsa. Then I do want to take this same meat, and I want to cut larger pieces, almost like a larger dice or medium dice, because I do want the dominance of the chile. So how you use the chile pepper is important to what your final product is going to be, what the recipe calls for.