Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Theme is Green–Pan Fried Green Chili Peppers

First of all, a quick plug for the Kickstarter for +5 Food Of Eating, a geeky/nerdy cookbook to be written by the very cool Tiffany Simmons. Full disclosure, I am involved with the project as a tester. I will not be receiving monies directly from the Kickstarter however, so I’m not going to get rich off of this if it becomes one of those amazing Kickstarter smash hits. I do think it will be an amazing project though, so if you like the idea, you should give it some love!

Now to the post proper!

I do often think about themes for food; different types of cuisine, food for certain kinds of parties, food for movies, comfort foods, fried foods, and many more such categorizations have all been highlighted at various points. This is the first time I’ve considered color as point to highlight.

Do not get me wrong, I definitely appreciate color. The appealing redness of a rare steak contrasted with it’s perfectly browned exterior, the vibrant pink hue of strawberry ice cream, the calming yellow of sweet lemon curd, and the muted brick color of oven dried tomatoes are all visually appealing. But I have yet to cook with color as the goal in mind.

So, with the notion of color in mind, I’ll pay tribute to the color green, with a very simple but delicious treatment of the green mild chili peppers. The chili peppers are pan fried with garlic, salt, and drizzled with a squeeze of lemon.

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Yes, that’s really it. This is actually a recipe I’ve been meaning to try for a while. Featured in the July 2010 edition of bon appétit an accompanying the article titled “hot peppers, bordeaux-style” it was a curiosity that was noted and promptly forgotten.

After digging around some of my old magazines for fun, I saw the recipe again just a day before the weekend farmer’s market, so with the recipe fresh in my mind, it was quite fortunate that I saw these beautiful peppers at one of the stalls. So I picked not quite as much of a peck of peppers, pulled the plunder into my pack and then … ok I’m out of p words.

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Anyway, aside from salt and oil, this is all you need, a tidy pile of green peppers (shishito, Padrón, or piments doux) a bit of lemon, and two cloves of garlic.

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Coarse sea salt is recommended as well. I had super coarse sea salt so I pounded a few crystals in my mortar gently.

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Place a heavy skillet over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add enough vegetable oil to coat it and swirl it around.

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Toss in the peppers  with two pinches of sea salt, and continually shake and stir them up until they’re about halfway blistered.

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Then add thinly sliced garlic and continue tossing and stirring until they’re fully blistered, another couple minutes or so.

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Remove the chilis to paper towels to drain the oil.

You know, given that the ideal pan fried green chili is perhaps a bit more brown than green, maybe it would be more accurate to say this is a tribute to brown and green… I’d argue that the green color is still visually striking.

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Pour the chilis into a serving bowl, then squeeze some lemon juice (basically a big wedge’s worth) over them to bring out the flavor. Toss the peppers quickly, then serve.

This is a great beer snack by the way.

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Actually, the more brown ones are more to my liking since they have a mellower, nuttier flavor, but the greener firmer ones are still pretty damn enjoyable.

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Pan-fried peppers (recipe adapted from July 2010 issue of bon appétit)

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 oz. green chiles (shishito, piment doux, or Padrón)
  • two pinches coarse sea salt + more to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (I just cut off one “side” of the lemon and squeeze that)
  1. Put a heavy skillet over high heat. Drizzle vegetable oil onto skillet when it is hot.
  2. Add whole chilis and two pinches of coarse sea salt and shake and stir constantly until chilis are blistered over half their surface area, about two minutes.
  3. Add garlic and continue to stir the chilis and shake the pan until they are blistered over most their surface area, another two minutes or so.
  4. Remove to paper towels to drain oil briefly, then place into a serving bowl. Squeeze lemon juice over peppers and toss. Sprinkle with more sea salt to taste, and eat immediately.

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