|How to eat a fried pepper.|
Long and kinky or short and stubby—two sorts of peppers are used for frying.
|Thin-skinned frying peppers.|
This is the pepper commonly used in a sofrito, a sauté of onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes that starts off many a Spanish dish.
The other frying pepper is the famous pimiento de Padrón, a very small green pepper grown in Galicia in northwest Spain (and now elsewhere in the world as well; see http://www.tienda.com/food/products/vg-08.html ). Padrón, where the peppers originated, is a town not far from Santiago de Compostela. They are picked when still tiny (1 ½ to 1 ¾ inches).
Padrón peppers are related to jalapeños, which they somewhat resemble, but the “hot” has been gradually bred out of them. Well, not entirely. The peppers are famed for their flavor and the Russian-roulette chance that about one in ten is a fiery-hot chile. The smaller and earlier peppers are least likely to be spicy-hot. Later in the season, as the peppers mature, more will be hot. As a Galician saying has it, “The peppers of Padrón, some bite and others don’t.”
Incidentally, if you didn’t already know, Spanish food is nothing like the spicy-hot food of Mexico. Chile is used in very few dishes and then very judiciously.
|Fried pimientos de Padrón.|
I learned to make fried peppers in tapa bar kitchens in the village where I live. There I was instructed to make a slit in the bottom end of each frying pepper and rub a pinch of salt inside each one, then fry them slowly in olive oil until tender. The slit prevents steam from accumulating. However, the smaller Padrón peppers are fried whole.
Pimientos de Padrón
Fried Padrón Peppers
Don’t let the oil get too hot—the peppers should not brown.
Serves 6 as a tapa or side dish.
1 pound Padrón peppers (75 to 100 peppers)
Olive oil for frying
Coarse salt, to serve
Wash the peppers and dry them thoroughly. Place oil in a large frying pan to a depth of ¾ inch. Place on medium heat. Fry the peppers in two batches, carefully turning them in the oil, until they are wrinkled and soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Skim the peppers out and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Serve hot or room temperature.
|Peppers at a tapa bar, ready for frying to order.|