Padrón peppers aka Pimientos de Padrón are native to Padrón, Spain. They are celebrated for their unique flavour and mild to moderate heat, making them a popular choice in Spanish cuisine.
These peppers are typically 5-8 cm long with slightly wrinkled skin and a curved shape resembling a small chilli. When young, they have a vibrant green color, turning red as they mature.
Padrón peppers are used mostly while they green. Most of these peppers are mild, but occasionally, one in every handful can surprise you with a spicier kick. This unpredictability in heat is part of their charm and adds excitement to eating them!
They are commonly fried in olive oil and served as a tapa or appetizer, sprinkled with coarse salt. The cooking process creates a blistered, slightly charred skin while maintaining a tender interior. Their mild, slightly sweet flavour complements various dishes, from salads to seafood, and they are often used in sauces or alongside meats for added depth and texture. While the fresh Padrón peppers have a grassy, slightly sweet aroma with earthy undertones, they emit a delightful scent of roasted green capsicum when cooked. In terms of taste, these peppers offer a mild, vegetal flavour with a hint of bitterness.
If you can’t find Padrón pepper for cooking, the nearest substitute will be the Japanese Shishito peppers. When substituting these peppers for Padróns in recipes, consider adjusting the quantity based on their heat level and size differences. Always taste as you cook to ensure the desired level of spiciness and flavor in your dish. While these peppers might not perfectly replicate the Padrón pepper’s occasional surprise heat, they can offer similar taste profiles and textures in various culinary preparations.
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