Ari's Top 5

Pan Fried Padron Peppers

Buy at the Farmer’s Market, fry ’em up in your own frying pan

When I was working on Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating some twenty years or so ago, I created small sidebars that I called “Travelers Advisories.” They were about foods that I really loved, but weren’t available in the United States. Iberico ham was one of them. Padron Peppers were another. Here’s what I said back then:

Very small green peppers that are fried and salted and delicious, but you can’t get them anywhere but Spain. If you go to Spain and you have the chance to eat them, do it. They’re delicious. I’ve never had anything else like them. They say that one pepper in every plateful is particularly hot. While I can’t say that it’s only one, there are definitely differences in heat level from one pepper to the next, which, I at least, will optimistically assume is due to minimal human intervention and the natural variability of untamed agricultural products. 

Happily, you no longer need to fly across the Atlantic to have them. Padrons are frequently found at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market from now, probably through much of the month of September. All of what I wrote remains true today. The Padron peppers are powerfully good. I still like them best simply blistered and sprinkled with good sea salt. Tammie grows them on her farm, so we get to eat lots of them when she brings them home. I can never get too many!

The Padron peppers are typical of the region of Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain. If you back the story up further, we know that they came originally from Central America, brought to Spain by Columbus and crew. Galicia has a fascinating Celtic culture, with its own language (Gallego) and marvelous music (like the band Milladoiro) that has a lot in common with Irish music and also the drone that I wrote about last week.

To prepare Padrons at your house, wash the peppers and pat them dry with a clean cloth. Put a decent bit of good olive oil in a sauté pan. The quality of the oil matters since it—along with the peppers and salt—is all there is to this. When the oil is hot, drop in the peppers. You want the oil pretty hot. Stir occasionally so the skin of the peppers is blistered and mottled with mostly silvery brown, a few specks of black, and still a bit of green. They should be well-wilted but not crispy. When they’re done, take them out with tongs, sprinkle with a generous bit of fleur de sel, and then eat them as soon as they’re cool enough that you won’t burn your tongue. They’re great too with the Creamery’s City Goat cheese crumbled over top if you like, or if you want to stay vegan, you can throw some chopped toasted almonds or hazelnuts on there too. The Roadhouse has some of Tammie’s peppers—The Tamchop Burger has a mix of Padron, Shishito, and Korean Beauty, set atop one of those freshly-ground, hand-pattied, grilled over oak, burgers, along with some of the Creamery’s fresh goat cheese!

However you eat them, the Padron peppers are darned delicious. Caleb Selves, who works at the Roadhouse, summed it up pretty succinctly: “Something beautiful happens when you fry peppers like that.”

Swing by the Farmer’s Market on Saturday to pick up some padrons, then come by the Creamery and grab a fresh City Goat to crumble on top after you cook them up!

PIck-Up City Goat to Pair with your Peppers!