Finger foods

Pimientos de Padrón: the Russian Roulette peppers!

Pimientos de padron

For the last several years now, one of my favorite tapas to prepare on Sunday afternoons is Pimientos de Padrón. Luckily for us, one of our local farmers, Bodhi Tree Farm, specializes in heirloom vegetables and has grown these tiny Spanish peppers very successfully. I must say that each year I await the season eagerly and greedily.

Pimientos de Padrón are originally from the Galicia region in Northwest Spain. They are very popular in Spanish tapas bars and have quickly gained popularity in the US as well. And it’s easy to see why! Not only are they deliciously sweet, nutty and ever so slightly bitter, but every now and then you’ll get a really hot one in the bunch, earning them the nickname of “Russian Roulette” peppers.

Serving them to friends is unbelievably fun! I’ll bring a bowl of these warm peppers and announce: “let’s play Russian Roulette” (believe me, that always catches everyone’s attention!). The discussion becomes extremely lively as soon as one person bites into a hot one… Then everyone approaches the scrumptious peppers a bit more gingerly. But no matter what, there’s never a single one left. They are simply addictive.

Food & cocktail pairing: Dark rum mojito with basil, paired with Russian Roulette peppers

Cocktail iconI like to serve the Pimientos de Padrón with this dark rum mojito with basil… And then, I wish Sunday afternoons would never end.

Pimientos de Padrón

serves 4
active time: 10 min

  1. 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
  2. 12 oz (340 g) Pimientos de Padrón – rinsed and thoroughly dried on a kitchen towel
  3. sea salt to taste

  1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil and peppers and toss until the peppers are well coated with the oil. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until peppers are golden-brown and blistered; tossing only occasionally. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with the salt. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm.

Tapas, hors d’oeuvres, pimientos de padron

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18 Comments

  • Reply maybelles mom July 19, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Sounds like a fun ice-breaker at a party. I don’t think I would be able to find these peppers but maybe I could grow them next year.

  • Reply alessandra July 19, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    I’m just came back from Galizia, where I stuffed myself with these pimientos, but I didn’t know the story about Russian roulette! In any case, we were lucky: no hot pepper in our plates….The matter is, in case, that they are missing, in Italy…
    bye
    alessandra

  • Reply Ben July 20, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Spanish food has always fascinated me. I need to look for these little peppers to make this tapa. Is there a substitute for them in case I can’t find them over here?

  • Reply Filiberto Martinez July 20, 2009 at 8:26 am

    I love these peppers. Here in Los Angeles I haven’t been able to find them so i grew my own. I’ve been eating plate after plate and haven’t gotten a hot one. I’m also growing the Melrose pepper which is an Italian Heirloom. These peppers are very similar except that the Melrose grows a bit larger and get’s slightly hot when big. If you get them smaller they’re almost indistinguishable from the Pimento de Padron.

    • Reply Viviane Bauquet Farre July 20, 2009 at 8:39 am

      In my experience, the Pimientos de Padron are mild early in the season. I just made a batch yesterday and there wasn’t a single hot one in it! But as the season goes on and the weather gets very hot/dry (in August and September) the harvest will deliver some very hot little peppers for sure!
      I am glad to learn about the Melrose peppers. Thank you for the recommendation Filiberto! That is great.
      I can also find Shishito Peppers at my farmers market – a Japanese heirloom variety. They are a bit spicier in general and small and can be prepared like the Pimientos de Padron – but I must say they are not as fun to eat…

  • Reply Duncan August 15, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I grew up visiting my grandparents who lived in Pontevedra, Galicia. Pimentos de padron are also amongst my favorites tapas foods (fried in olive oil and spinkled with a generous dose of sea salt). I am very excited at growing my first crop of pimentos plants in my London town garden this summer.
    p.s Galicia is a province or region of Spain not a town!

    • Reply Viviane Bauquet Farre August 15, 2009 at 1:24 pm

      Oh I hope your crop of pimientos de padron is a very abundant one! I served them again last night and they are so fun and delicious – we got 4 really hot ones in the batch.

      Thanks a million for the correction about Galicia. I’ve updated my post!

  • Reply Martin August 22, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Hallo,
    Who can help me to find Pimentos de Padron seeds, I would like to grow them in my green house myselfe.
    In Holland I can’t find fresh Pimentos
    Can you help me?
    E-mail: martinb0172@hotmail.com
    Thanx

    • Reply Viviane Bauquet Farre August 23, 2009 at 12:06 pm

      Hello Martin,

      Thank you for writing all the way from Holland! How fun it is to get comments from so many countries.

      Here is a supplier for Pimientos de Padron seeds. I believe they ship all over the world: http://www.tomatogrowers.com/hot4.htm scroll down a bit and you will see the info for these peppers. If you manage to grow them, I’d love to hear about it.

      As for me, I’m on my way to the farmers’ market to buy some right now!

  • Reply kellypea October 11, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    These sound so tasty. I love peppers any way I can get them, but stuffed they’re especially tasty. Great recipe!

  • Reply la October 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I love pimientos de padron – just picked some up at the union sq market and am pumped to have friends over for some russian roulette! great post!

  • Reply Alex November 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

    My wife is from a small town in Galicia called Muro’s I fell in love with that place and all the great tapas. My favorite by far is Pimientos I don’t care for any greens but once I tried them I was addicted nothing like a cold Estrlla Galicia and a plate of these peppers. We live in Miami and last time in Spain we bought seeds and planted them I still have not grown a hot one but it is nice to see them grow daily over here

  • Reply Chez Us November 18, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    This is one of my most favorite things to eat!!! Unfortunately, it was a short season for us this year. I only was able to find a couple times. Wonderful!

  • Reply Jean October 20, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I always love pepers of any kind. In China we have something very similar to this one, but has a very striking name called “Pan Fried Tiger Skin”. I have no idea where the name came from. I have not cooked that particular dish for a long time. Yours just reminded me to pick up some pepers today on the way back home :)

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