I am no stranger to spicy food, but I once ate one of these that was so hot I had to lie down. Why? Because I was being macho and I didn’t remove the seeds and membranes from the peppers. I have also, of course, eaten many that were just the right degree of spiciness. No matter what happens with the heat, you will deeply enjoy the sweet (dates), pungent (onion), and bracing (vinegar/ginger) aspects of these perfectly peppery pickle bites. Oh, and if Indian paneer cheese is not available, you can make do with another very mild, low-salt milk cheese like queso fresco, haloumi, or a firm quark.
Makes 8 to 10 stuffed peppers
TIME: 6 DAYS
- 4 or 5 green jalapeño chiles
- 4 or 5 red Fresno chiles
- 1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about ½ small yellow onion)
- 1/3 cup minced cilantro
- 2/3 cup finely diced paneer (about 3 ounces)
- 5 dates, pitted and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground fenugreek
- ¾ cup distilled white vinegar
- 1¼ cups water
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 thin slices fresh ginger
- 1 large clove garlic, smashed
Bring a small covered saucepan of water to a boil.
Use scissors or kitchen shears to cut the stems off the peppers, leaving the peppers intact.
When the water is at a rapid boil, slip in the peppers and cook 5 to 7 minutes, until soft enough to be malleable. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
While the peppers cool, combine the onion, cilantro, paneer, dates, salt, and fenugreek in a medium mixing bowl. This is your stuffing.
Now it’s time to stuff the peppers. Using a paring knife, start at the stem end of a pepper and make a long slit, lengthwise, down almost to the pepper’s tip. Pinch the pepper together like a change purse to open up the incision you just made. Unless you truly enjoy extremely spicy food, I suggest you use a spoon to gently scrape out as many of the seeds and membranes as you can, leaving the pepper intact. Follow suit with the remaining peppers.
Stuff the peppers with the stuffing until you can’t fit anymore inside without splitting the pepper. Lay the peppers on their sides, cut side up, in a shallow container with a well‑fitting lid that is just big enough for all.
To make the brine, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, ginger, and garlic in a small covered saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the hot brine, complete with the ginger and garlic, over the peppers to cover them completely. (If your storage container is rather large, and you need more liquid to cover the peppers fully, you can double the quantity of brine.) Secure the container with a lid and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Move the peppers to the refrigerator and let them sit for 5 days. Serve the peppers whole or carefully sliced into bites. Kept refrigerated, these peppers will last up to 2 weeks.
This recipe is from Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond from Ten Speed Press.