Monday, January 30, 2012

Product spotlight: Peppers

Johnny's is renowned for its wide selection of peppers, from the sweetest big bell peppers to the hottest little Habaneros. Johnny's research farm crew loves to grow peppers, and we have bred a few new varieties ourselves. This month we want to focus on three peppers from three different cuisines around the world:

Padron peppers are small pimentos, named for the town in Spain where they originated. There's a saying in Spain: "Os pementos de Padron, uns pican e outros non," which translates as "Padron peppers, some are hot and some are not." In fact, about 1 in 20 Padron peppers is hot and the rest are mild, which makes for an interesting eating experience. They are traditionally tossed with olive oil, pan charred, dusted with coarse salt, and served as tapas (appetizers). To eat them, grab one by the stem and bite off the fruit, being prepared for the possibility of mild heat. Padrons should be picked quite small, 1-1 1/2" long for best flavor. If they get 2-3" long, most will be hot.

Mellow Star
A very similar pepper, served the very same way, is popular in Japan. Mellow Star is a Shishito pepper that is three times as big as the Padron and has no heat. It is served as an appetizer, pan charred and salted. It is also popular in tempura and stir fries. In Japan, the peppers are eaten green, but they also can be left to mature to a sweet red.

Red Rocket
Red Rocket is an organic cayenne pepper with considerable heat. Only 85 days to bright red maturity, these slim, thin-walled chiles are perfect for stringing into ristras. They dry quickly and can be sold for many months. Red Rocket ristras are both decorative and useful in the kitchen the tender flesh of the dried fruits softens up when cooked.

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