September 10, 2007

Quick Pickled Peppers

As my small crop of ají amarillo ripens, I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to preserve their unusual fruity-hot taste. They are yellow-orange and thin-skinned. I thinly sliced one and steeped half in rice vinegar and half in vegetable oil. I added salt and some sliced shallot and waited 1 hour. The vinegar base was delicious, while the oil was, well, oily tasting, with faint ají flavor. I spread the ají oil on my tomato sandwich and set out to make pickled ají slices. I layered not-too-thinly-sliced ajís in a jar, along with sliced shallot and pinches of salt. I then poured in rice vinegar to just cover and let stand for 2 hours. I now have a beautiful jar of bright pickled-ají slices, stored in the refrigerator. The vinegar tastes spicy and peppery and can be added to a soy dipping sauce for dumplings or used for finishing a pan sauce. The sliced ajís can be eaten as is, tucked into a sandwich or taco, scattered over a slice of pizza or used as a garnish for fried things. I will be making a few more cute little jars of pickled ajís for friends.

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