Padron Peppers are a Spanish tapas treat and you are lucky enough to get them in small, remote, middle of the state South Dakota. You will find these throughout Spain, but they originated in the northwestern region. Typically they are pan-fried in very hot oil and sprinkled generously with salt before being served, hopefully, with a cold beer.
They are quirky, which Matt and I enjoy. How can a vegetable be quirky, you ask? Although most padron peppers are mild, about 10%-25% are spicy. Not jalapeno spicy, but they have a nice kick. We love this aspect of the peppers, because you never know what to expect. We’ve tried to establish what makes some peppers hot and others not. It doesn’t seem to be their size. I’ve read that it depends on how much sunlight each pepper receives, the amount of water the plant gets, as well as the temperature.
We all know the temperatures have been extreme this summer, so we expected a lot of hot peppers when we ate our first batch this year. But, that really wasn’t the case. Out of probably 25 peppers, we had 3, a measly 12%. So, what about the other factors? An interesting tidbit I just read says that if the plants receive most of their water via the ground, i.e. drip tape irrigation, they will probably produce more mild peppers. But if the entire plan is watered, the peppers will have more spice. Considering we barely received a drop of rain in July and we water with drip tape, this theory seems plausible. Now that we’ve been lucky enough to have some rain, I’m curious if we’ll see an increase in spicy Padron Peppers.
The big question for Matt and I is what came first, the Padron Pepper or our trips to Spain? I honestly don’t remember, but I think the pepper came into our lives before the lovely vacations to Spain.
So, making these is so simple…you really don’t need a recipe. Heat some oil (we’ve used both Canola and Olive Oil) over high heat. Once a piece of bread sizzles when you drop it in the oil, you’re ready. We like to do a shallow fry, so we need to flip them part way through, but you can use more oil so they are completely covered. Once the peppers blister, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. While they are draining, sprinkle generously with salt. By that I mean, if it looks like a lot of salt, add a little more for measure. Then, sit down with cold beer and a couple friends to enjoy.