Food For Thought: Pepper Roulette

Aug 31, 2016

One thing the summer's unconscionably hot weather seems to have been good for is my pepper crop.  I've got eight pots going, with poblanos, beaver dam (I just liked the name) fireballs, pepperoncini, cayanetta, and cubanelle and Italian sweet for pepper and scrambled egg or sausage subs.

I'm also growing two shishito plants, similar to the popular Spanish tapas pepper, the Padrón.  I've seen both at farmer's markets lately and they share a characteristic that makes eating them a suspenseful experience.

My home grown Shishitos, aka the Stealth Chile
Credit Stein

Preparation couldn't be simpler.  Just toss in a hot skillet or wok with a little olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Some recipes tell you to poke a little hole in them first to prevent bursting. 

Just as with Padróns, shishitos are mostly mild..  But one in 10 is hot – and you can't tell by looking.  Hold each by the stem, pop it whole into your mouth and wait for that stealth capsaicin ambush.

Nancy Leson loves peppers, too.  Especially now that Hatch peppers have made their way up from New Mexico's Hatch Valley, the chile capital of the world.  "I stuff 'em with whatever I've got around but I really love Hempler's chorizo. I sauté that with onions, some fresh corn and add leftover rice and pepperjack."

Nance's Kitchen Sink stuffed peppers.
Credit Nancy Leson

I used a few of my poblanos and Italian sweet peppers as meat rafts for one of my favorites dim sum dishes, lah chiu stuffed peppers.  I mostly follow Andrea Nguyen's shrimp paste recipe for the filling  but instead of all shrimp go half and half with ground pork.

Lah Chiu stuffed peppers. Some of my cayenettas in the middle for added zip.

Remember to dust the pepper's inside surface before spreading on the filling.  The simplest way is to pour some corn or tapioca starch onto a plate and press the pepper onto it. I pan fried mine in a non stick skillet on a light film of oil, filling side down.  They can also be steamed.

"Too Much Romance... It's Time for Stuffed Peppers."  –  Lina Wertmuller movie title

P.S.  This is our first Food for Thought broadcast and blog post on the new 88-5 KNKX and KNKX.org.  Thank you so much for all you've done to make it happen. -- Dick and Nancy