A Spanish pepper named after the Guernica town in Spain’s Basque region, similar looking to padrón chiles, with origins in the New World. That’s what these pretty little chiles are: Pimientos de Gernika. But I din’t travel to Spain to purchase them, I found them in my local grocery store. These were grown in Mexico. So I guess you can say they are the original peppers…before they got their name from the Spanish conquistadors.
Gernika peppers are new to me. Have you ever tasted them? When I grabbed the package I thought they were padrón and I was so excited that I did a happy dance in the store. Much to my husband’s embarrassment, of course. After reading the package I realised they weren’t padrón, I was still excited to try a new pepper. Happy dance not wasted. Apparently there are some differences in the two chiles. For starters, padrón are like Russian roulette, some are sweet and others are spicy. Gernika are always sweet. They differ in size too: padrón are short and gernikas are long. But the differences stop there because they are cooked and eaten in the same way.
Cooking involves nothing more than a hot pan, a little olive oil, the peppers and a decent sprinkling of sea salt. It is recommended that a small slit is given to each pepper to prevent them from popping or exploding when being fried. Explosive liquids and hot oil are never a fun experience. Be careful. Both the padrón and gernika are served on their own or as part of tapas. This is done to enjoy the flavours to the fullest.
The Gernika, or guernica, peppers known in Spain are said to have lost their spiciness due to the cold mountain climate of the Basque region. Deductive reasoning (d’uh), would lead one to believe that since the onces I purchased are grown in Mexico they would be spicy. Not so. They were very mild. But that’s okay, because what they lacked in heat they more than made up in flavour. The taste is incredible! It’s a bit difficult to explain other than one of the very best pepper flavours one can eat.
Sautéing chiles always produces flavours that other cooking methods, or leaving the peppers raw, do not bring out. Raw the gernika don’t have much flavour, it reminds me a bit of cubanelle peppers. The texture is crispy and the mild scent it pleasant. After sautéing the chiles have a smokiness smell to them that is very appealing. The taste…think of the most delicious roasted pepper you’ve ever eaten and multiply it. You simply cannot eat just one pepper. I was surprised how fantastic the smell and taste was and I couldn’t stop myself from eating them. My husband felt exactly the same way.
After sautéing the chiles I sprinkled sea salt over them and set on the table with the intention to be an appetiser to our steak dinner. We did begin with them but also started eating alongside the steak and it was a scrumptious match. If you get the opportunity you must give gernika peppers a try. Below are the exact measurements I used to prepare our chiles. Enjoy!
- 24 fresh gernika peppers (the weight is just under 200 gms)*
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- medium coarse sea salt
- After rinsing the peppers make a small slit in each one. Heat a pan over medium heat, add the oil and allow to warm up. Place the peppers inside the pan but do not crowd them. Allow each pepper to blister and soften. Remove from pan, into a serving dish and sprinkle sea salt over the chiles. Serve right away.
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