A small (about 1½ inches long), slightly pointed chile that has a very hot, savory flavor. As it matures, its smooth, bright green skin turns scarlet red, then yellow. Fresh serranos can be found in Latin markets and some supermarkets. They are also available canned, pickled or packed in oil, sometimes with carrots, onions or other vegetables. Serranos can be used fresh or cooked in various dishes and sauces such as guacamole and salsa. The dried serrano chile, also known as chile seco, comes whole and powdered and is generally used in sauces.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.