Habanero chiles are small, lantern-shaped green or ripened red chiles measuring about 2 inches (5 cm) in length and up to 1 3/4 inches (4.5 cm) wide. This fresh or dried chile - literally, the Havana chili - is one of the hottest available, more than 30 times hotter than the fiery jalapeno. Its flavor is notable for hints of tropical fruit.
To handle habanero chiles:
Wear kitchen gloves to prevent any cuts or abrasions on your hands from contacting the volatile oils. Wash your hands well with warm, soapy water after handling chiles, and do not touch your eyes or other sensitive areas.
To stem and seed habanero chiles: With a knife, cut each chile in half lengthwise. Pull out the stem section and attached cluster of seeds. Remove the thin membranes, or ribs, and remaining seeds.
To roast and peel habanero chiles: Roasting develops the flavor of chiles and softens their flesh. Place whole chiles on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated broiler until the skin blackens. Or, hold with long-handled fork over an open flame. Transfer to a paper bag or cover with aluminum foil until cool, about 10 minutes. Peel off the skin, then remove the stems, ribs, and seeds. For other varieties of chile, see Anaheim, ancho, arbol, bird's-eye, cayenne, chilaca, chipotle, guajillo, jalapeno, mulato, pasilla, poblano, serrano, and yellow chiles, and dried red chiles and ground dried chile.