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Monday, July 28, 2008

Pimientos de Padron: How to Escape the Heat

A Bag of Happy Quail Farms' Pimientos de Padron Peppers

Happy Quail Farms' Pimientos de Padron

These little peppers may look sweet, but eat the wrong one, and you might be grasping for a glass of beer or a chunk of bread, your mouth on fire. Allegedly, one in ten of these peppers a tongue-scorcher. Chez Pim calls eating a mess of Pimientos de Padron "Culinary Russian Roulette".

I've had these before, and my taste memory of them didn't include searing pain and vigorous fanning of air onto my extended tongue. Of course, I only had a couple of them at the time. So when I read on Foodista and on We Heart Food that Pimientos de Padron were on sale again, I knew I had to get some. I convinced Annie to go to the Palo Alto Farmer's Market and pick some up.

Happy Quail Farms Pimientos de Padron Peppers on Sale

happy quail farms pimiento de padron peppers on sale

More Capsicums for Less Cash

Even though Happy Quail Farms's price for a bag of Pimientos de Padron is $6, we were able to get them for $4 dollars - a 33% discount! How, you might ask? First, we went later in the day, toward the farmer's market closing time. We find that the vendors are more willing to make deals so that they don't have to take back home or chuck their produce. Second, we bought more than one bag. The vendor was willing to give us 2 bags for $10, and 3 bags for $12.

Try it, it might work for you, too!

Cooking 'em up

We brought the peppers home, rinsed them, and dried them on a plate. Annie didn't want to fry them inside the house so we went outside with the same butane stove / wok setup that we used in our Char Koay Teow post.

The recipe for cooking these bad boys is very simple. Pour olive oil into a pan to just cover the bottom. Heat it over high heat until it starts to sizzle. Toss the peppers in and turn the heat to medium. Keep stirring the peppers around so that the peppers cook evenly.

Frying the Pimientos de Padron

Frying the Pimientos de Padron

The skin of the peppers will start to blister and char.

Blistered Pimientos de Padron

Blistered Pimientos de Padron

Keep stirring until all the peppers are pretty evenly blistered. Remove to a plate and sprinkle on a little sea salt.

Pimientos de Padron tapas plate

Pimientos de Padron tapas plate

Now comes the fun part! Pick up a pepper by the stem and bite off the body. If you're lucky, you will get one of the mild, sweet ones. The smoky, charred skin and the sea salt mingle with the sweetness of the pepper to build on the pleasure in your mouth. The small pepper will disappear and, before you know it, another one jumps into your hand.


Now, if you're unlucky, you will find that you have a loaded pepper in your hand. The first sensations are the same - the slight crunch, the sweet flesh, the tickle of charred skin on your tongue. And then, BANG!

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Your tongue is on fire, and your eyes start to water in an effort to put out the blaze a few inches below. If it's a really hot one, your nose gets in on the firefighting action as well.

Annie bit into one of those, as did another friend of ours who sampled our peppers. They eventually concluded that it was the larger ones, with more mature seeds that seemed to be the hotter ones. This goes along with Foodista's assertion that Pimientos de Padron harvested in June / July are sweeter while the ones harvested in August / September are hotter. Essentially, the younger the pepper, the milder it will be...maybe...

...but then again...

Unless you are a total wimp, the heat of the pepper doesn't stop you from eating more of them. Some people say that consuming capsaicin (the compound in peppers that gives them their heat) causes the brain to release endorphins - resulting in feelings of pleasure. So trying to "escape the heat" may not be all that worthwhile in the long run.

Aloha, Nate

PS: Even though this dish, and the rest of tonight's dinner (which I will blog about in upcoming posts) were Spanish-themed, I did not open the bottle of Bodegas LAN Rioja Crianza that I got last week. I am still looking for suggestions on what to serve with it. Can you help me out? Go to the "What Would You Serve with This Rioja?" post and please leave a comment!

PPS: Stay tuned. I've got three more amazing recipes from tonight's dinner that I want to share with you. Don't miss any of our new posts! Subscribe to House of Annie by email today!
Check out more dishes inspired by our farmer's market finds: Broiled Salmon Collar, Bouillabaisse, Roast Chicken with White Bean Stew, Rotisserie Chicken and mango salsa

More food porn


Sig said...

oh my, I've had these in Spain, and I've been looking for some here! Wish I lived in the SF area, I went to the happy quail farms website, but they only ship 5 lbs or more.. :(

Chris said...

N-n-A -- love the write-up, and wish I could have gotten that 3 for $12 deal! :)

Sig -- go get them @ the Spanish Table in downtown Seattle!

Kajal@aapplemint said...

these look just perfect for some tempura, i'm already feeling the heat ... lol :)

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@Sig - Hope you can get some!

@Chris - thanks. How much were they in Seattle?

@Kate - hm, tempura sounds like a great idea.

Jude said...

I've been wanting to try these peppers stuffed with manchego and fried in olive oil. No padron peppers around here, though.

noobcook said...

I love love love chilli! I've never tried this type before and I really wonder what they taste like. Bravo for eating them whole despite the heat ;)

P.S. will u allow non google/open ID users to comment? :)

White on Rice Couple said...

Congrats on finding them on sale, what a deal! The charred ones look amazing.

I just LOVE chili peppers and am currently growing 9 varieties! I saw these Pimientos de padron pepper plants at my farmers market a few months back and regret not buying any, but I just don't have any more garden space. Maybe next year....or in a pot?'ve put these peppers in my head now.

I love the fact that you guys have a butane stove. I can't live with out those suckers.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@Jude - they are rather hard to find. We're lucky to be living so close to the source.

@Wiffy - they are more of a sweet pepper, until you hit the hot one.

I checked my commenting settings, and it is set to allow OpenID. However, I do moderate comments to prevent spammers and trollers. So if you leave a comment, it won't show up automatically.

@WoRC - we grow our peppers in pots too. When we get our Pimientos de Padron seeds in, we'll share some!

Sharonarn said...

I ordered some on a whim recently after receiving a promotional email from La Tienda - they were fabulous and they shipped only a pound

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@Sharon - I bet they were gone in a flash, too.

Dale Bookout said...

Happy Quail will ship 2 pounds if you ask, but they will still charge you the 10 dollars shipping. At 5 pounds, its $14 a pound. La Tienda will ship as little as 1 pound and sells them for $13.50. Sometimes they are on sale too. I've gotten them as cheap as $10.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@mumbles - good find, thanks!

Dale Bookout said...

Great news! Due to the overwhelming demand, La Tienda is taking up to 3 weeks to ship los padrones. happy quail has bumped up prices and has a 2 pound minimum with 10 dollar shipping surcharge. You'll drop 42 bucks before seeing them in 4 days. Now the East Coast has an outlet! Union square farmers market! There on Mondays and Fridays. Japanese lady directly across the street from Coffee Shop. Enjoy. 8 dollars a pound!

Dale Bookout said...

Great news! Due to the overwhelming demand, La Tienda is taking up to 3 weeks to ship los padrones. happy quail has bumped up prices and has a 2 pound minimum with 10 dollar shipping surcharge. You'll drop 42 bucks before seeing them in 4 days. Now the East Coast has an outlet! Union square farmers market! There on Mondays and Fridays. Japanese lady directly across the street from Coffee Shop. Enjoy. 8 dollars a pound!

Red Truck Farm, LLC said...

These peppers are great. We're experimenting this year with growing them out a little larger for our chefs as they've requested them that way so they can stuff them.

Anonymous said...

As a market farmer, I have to comment that showing up at the end of the day and asking for deals is pretty annoying and a little manipulative. Yes, a lot of folks will give you deals, but the ones who have been around likely won't, expecially if you are a new face. Growing fruits and vegetables is hard work, especially when you can only charge a few bucks a pound for produce you've spent months nurturing. Recognize that when you pay fair market price you are not just buying food, but you are supporting another person who is growing something you can't find in your supermarket and who might, even, have a family of their own.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@Anonymous - thank you for your comment. I really appreciate that you would speak your mind on this.

We love to build relationships with our market farmers. We know that there is a certain margin of profit that they have to make in order to prosper as a business. They wouldn't make a deal if it didn't benefit them.

Bonito said...

I too have been looking for the delicacies. I found and ordered them today at for ony $8.99 Priority mail shipping was under $7

Unknown said...

I ditto Nate and Annie, I agree that farming must be hard work, but I would guess that most people feel they work hard. Food should not be more expensive than it has to be, but then I am talking about farmers markets in Seattle where (a lot of but not all) food is at boutique prices.
AND Padron peppers at the "Spanish Table" sell for $24.00 a pound