I like to say I was born with a stainless steel thumb - my culinary equivalent of the green thumb - and that's a lucky thing for me since my passion in life is food and cooking, and everything that comes a long with it.
What do I do with my life? I dream food, think food, look at food, read about food, work in the food business, travel via food, talk about food, use food as my artistic muse, teach others about food, and clearly, cook, play with and EAT food!
Food is my compass.
Ah yes - the beautiful Padron pepper. So often mistaken for - or replaced, unfortunately by - the shishito - but so much better!! These little peppers are from Padron, Spain, in the region of Galicia, and have to be picked at the perfect moment - right before they lose their "sweetness" and gain the overt spiciness of a regular chile. That in and of itself makes the game of eating Padrons even better - you MAY get a spicy one, let's say every one in ten, but the rest just have the perfect chile pepper flavoring.
For the longest time, these peppers weren't available stateside - that was up until about five or so years ago. Fortunately, someone decided it would be a fabulous idea to bring them on over, and even a few farmers are growing them (THANK GOD!) in the Bay area. The result of offering these delicious little bites gives us one of the most amazing tapas ever - simple, refreshing, delicious, and exciting! Eating them, you'll feel like your right in Galicia, ready to swill down a cold one and bite right in. There's really nothing much to it! That being said, if you see Padron peppers, you absolutely have to try these. You can whip them up in a flash, and they'll probably even get eaten in a shorter amount of time that it took to make them!
Seriously, no recipe needed. All you need is a bit of olive oil to coat your pan, some good sea salt, and I like to add a bit of fresh lemon juice. Heat your pan over medium-high heat, and swirl in enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan. When it starts to shimmer, add in your Padrons and let them sizzle! Cook until they are fully blistered.
You want to get these good and charred, but not overcooked! Make sure that the pan is super hot and you don't cook them any longer than a few minutes - otherwise, they'll become overly mushy, and the oil will all soak up in them.
One their nice and crispy, immediately place them in a serving bowl or dish and toss them with an AMPLE amount of sea salt - Maldon, or a good crystally sea salt is good - it adds a nice crunch and flavor burst every time you bite into the crystal. Squeeze about a half of a lemon over the peppers, and VOILA. Easiest, most delicious appetizer ever. Have friends that showed up out of nowhere? Hopefully you have Padrons on hand, because these can be made in a flash.
Grab yourself a cold one, and pretend you're in Padron. There's nothing better than a simple Galician tapa!