Russian Roulette With Pimientos de Padrón

“…..utterly addictive –particularly when accompanied by a glass of Albariño (Galician white wine).”

-Mina Holland, The Edible Atlas: Around the World in Thirty-Nine Cuisines

Serve Pimientos de Padrón with drinks… something more than just ‘interesting’

Last month, on a visit to Seville, my daughter offered to take me out for dinner as a belated birthday treat. Much research had gone into the choice of restaurant which turned out to be miles away from where we thought. Having run through the narrow streets, dodging sporadic thunderstorms we arrived breathless and a little fraught.

Looking down the list of tapas I spotted the pimientos de Padrón immediately. I’d read that Rick Stein had included these in his new book on Spain and that they were the new foodie ‘in’ thing and I was keen to investigate.

A generous plate of them arrived, and I tried one. VERY hot…. I wasn’t sure I could cope with ten more, but as my daughter was paying I didn’t want to seem ungrateful. Cautiously I tried another which was EVEN HOTTER. “Hmmm, a bit spicy” I commented through gritted teeth, sweating gently. My daughter remained unimpressed, “I don’t think so” she replied, hoovering up about four with clear appreciation.

Not wanting to be labelled by my own daughter as a wimp I courageously took on a third mini-green… and thought it delicious. Meanwhile, to my satisfaction, my daughter sucked in her breath, looked slightly cross-eyed and followed up her original dismissive retort with “aha! I see what you mean!”.

I didn’t come across any other hot pimientos – there seem to be just a couple for every ten. And, just the one or two every now and then adds an element of risk and recklessness to the whole proceedings. As my daughter commented thoughtfully, “it’s like playing Russian roulette”.

A couple of days later in Madrid I was in a bookshop browsing through Omar Allibhoy’s excellent book on tapas, and I came upon his recipe for these mini-green peppers. I discovered that the occasional hot one was pretty much the raison d’être of these peppers, which come from (you guessed it) Padrón in Galicia (Northern Spain).

How to cook them

You’ll need about 200g/7 oz for tapas for 4-5 people. They are very quick and easy to cook – simply fry them in hot olive oil which is just beginning to smoke, whole, stalks and all, until they begin to blister – just a minute or so should do it. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes. The idea is that you get the intriguing mix of textures described in my previous blog on peppers. Drain onto kitchen papper. Serve immediately.

When are they available?

The season for these Galician peppers is mid-July to September/October/November, but peppers from the south of Spain fill in the other months of the year so they are generally available all year round .

Where can you get them from?

In the UK you can get them from The Tapas Lunch Company and The South Devon Chilli Farm and on a recent trip to Borough Market I discovered you can get them from Brindisa.

For a post on the best way of cooking ordinary green peppers, follow this link.

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