Pimientos de Padrón
Padrón is a village in the northwestern province of A Coruña (Galicia, Spain) famous for its small and slightly conical fresh green peppers called pimientos de Padrón. About one in every ten is hot‒a manageable kick‒but in fact, most are mild. Even though the level of heat in these peppers is not something to be concerned about, whoever in the group is more sensitive to heat is bound to get it, something Jeff Koehler, a food writer, aptly refers to as the “Padrón’s Law”.
A particularity about pimientos de Padrón is that they are an addictive appetizer and they match perfectly with a cold glass of rosé or white wine. When travelling in Spain, we often stop at simple bars or taverns and ask for a portion of fried pimientos… and we keep coming for more. This is a cheap tapas dish and the portions are generous. Padrón peppers contain vitamins A, B1, B2, C, protein, calcium and iron (thanks to Angela for the nutritional information).
They were introduced by some chefs a few years ago (probably 2013 or 2014) in restaurants in Toronto and quickly became a big hit. They have become so popular that many farms in Ontario started to grow them or an East Asian variety known as Shishito peppers, which are slender but have a similar taste. Both Padrón and Shishito peppers are “cousins” and are from the cultivar Capsicum annuum.
Many Loblaws and Michael-Angelo’s stores in Toronto carry Padrón and/or shishito peppers during the summer, but we have found this delicacy on other seasons too. When buying, look for shiny green peppers with firm, unwrinkled skin. They are sold into small containers like the one on the photo and the price range is between C$5.00 and C$7.00.
The simplest form to prepare this delicacy as a tapas dish is to quickly fry the pimientos in olive oil until blistered in spots and then generously scatter salt over them. The oil needs to be hot (but not smoking!) before adding the pimientos. They also should not be fried too long or they will lose their natural aroma and flavor. Another option is to deep fry them, but more olive oil is needed in this case. Both varieties are also excellent choices for stuffing, sauteing and tempura.
To eat them, pick up a pepper by the stem and chew up the whole pepper, seeds included, discarding only the stems. Yes, you can eat the soft white core and the seeds if you want. Delicious!
- 1 container (250 g) Padrón or Shishito peppers
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Maldon, kosher or coarse sea salt
- Wash the peppers and dry all of them well. Do not remove the stems.
- In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the peppers and quickly cook, turning as needed, until they are blistered in places but not blackened (about 4 minutes). You may need a splatter guard.
- Transfer the peppers to a plate with absorbent paper towels to wick away the excess oil.
- Move the peppers to a serving plate and generously season with salt flakes. Serve hot.
Nutritional Values of Padrón Peppers, Casa Conde Europe
Spain, Jeff Koehler. Chronicle Books