Apart from having heat, what does a chilli really taste like? Look no further than the green Mexican Poblano chilli. My first acquaintance with this remarkable fruit was in a market in the Mexican capital, char-grilled and stuffed with Oaxaca cheese, then pan fried in a light souffle jacket and laid on a tomato and chipotle chilli salsa into which an entire pot of broth had been incorporated and simmered away to leave behind that heavenly liquor known as “caldillo”.
I have every intention of sharing this – later. First, be assured that the pimiento del Padrón from Galicia in north-western Spain, is easily the closest you’ll get to the taste of chilli outside of Mexico.
Of course, all peppers are chillies which having been cultivated outside the tropics have gradually lost their heat – in Spain we say they’ve gone “morrón”. Padrón peppers, though “morrón”, will occasionally blow your socks off with heat. Eating Padrones carries that edge which is all part of the excitement.
Cooking whole Padrones can be hazardous as they swell up with the heat and explode on you. Stab them first. You’ll still get a mouthful of seeds when eating them. This is not a problem for the Spanish but if you want a cleaner experience remove the seeds first and sear them as below
Pimientos Del Padrón
- Padrón peppers
- coarse sea or pink Himalayan salt
- 4-5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Make a cut in each pepper to remove the stalk and access the seed pod
- Partially cut along the side of each pepper to remove all the seeds
- Heat enough oil to cover the base of a heavy based pan, add the sliced garlic and toss till golden brown
- Set the garlic aside. The remaining oil will now be garlic scented
- Add the peppers (dry them with paper kitchen towel to stop them from spitting) and brown them thoroughly on all sides, pressing down with a spatula to ensure a firm contact with the hot oil.
- mix in the garlic, sprinkle with coarse salt and serve immediately