Even in New York City, Thai chiles are surprisingly hard to find—especially red ones. (Anyone know why green are more readily available?)
So when I see them, I buy them—even if I don’t have a plan for them. Then, I stick them in a little baggie in the freezer, where they take up absolutely no space and keep for up to a year. I throw them into any dish that could use a little fresh heat, or sub them in when I don’t have a fresh jalapeño or serrano (guacamole is so much easier to whip up now).
This sounds pretty awesome, yes? So here’s the best part: You don’t have to defrost them. These chiles are so tiny that you can slice them frozen—in fact, they’re easier to cut frozen—and they’ll thaw on their own in whatever you’re cooking.
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I take no credit for this so-smart tip that a few of you already know about: When I was visiting my family friend Mei one winter break in high school, I caught her taking Thai chiles out of the freezer, not the fridge, to add to our morning frittata. (And that is when I said, I must be a food writer! Just kidding.)
It’s also a trick Andrea Nguyen nestled into the first few pages of her new book The Pho Cookbook (she also told us about a great cheesecloth hack up there—the book is worth it just for the first 30 pages!). She says that while Thai—as well as jalapeño, Fresno, and serrano—chiles keep for just a week in the fridge, Thai chiles can keep for up to a year in the freezer.
So next time you find them at a grocery store (marked as Thai chile or bird’s eye chile) or your garden gives you lots of them (Sam1148 mentioned on the Hotline they’re very easy to grow), grab a whole bag. Oh, another tip: To avoid touching the chiles at the store and potentially burning your eyes later, turn your plastic bag inside out and use it as a glove to snatch up a handful of the chiles.
Once you’re stocked up, you might want some recipes: