Toward the end of the farmers’ market Saturday, I was making the rounds picking up a few extra items, which included a few little gem lettuces, a couple of Asian pears and a rosemary baguette.
Then I remembered my kids asked me for sugar snap peas the day prior. So I went to the De La Cruz Family Farm stand for a pound and a half of their crisp green peas.
As I bagged my peas, owner Andy De La Cruz said, “Take some peppers,” pointing to a basket fully loaded with shiny green Thai chilies. I thanked him and said I would take a few, reaching into the basket for about a half dozen chilies.
He then turned to me and said, “No, grab the whole basket.”
Knowing how spicy these chilies can get, I knew it would take some work to get through them all but was up for the challenge. Admittedly, I did give a small handful to a couple of my neighbors, but was eager to incorporate them into my meals over the weeks to come.
When comparing the general heat level of Thai chilies to other peppers, these tend to fall somewhere between a serrano chili and a habanero, so they’re not be taken lightly.
Harvested in their early stage,before they transform into red in color, Thai chilies are most notably used in green curries, opposed to the mature red Thai peppers used in red curries.
The real heat is concentrated in the seeds, so removing them when using for culinary purposes can greatly assist in taming them down a bit.
Nice in both cooked and raw preparations, green Thai chilies can be used to infuse sauces, marinades and salad dressings, as well as soups and stews. Enjoy them raw in a Thai-style noodle salad with complementary vegetables such as sweet peppers, carrots, snap peas, cabbage and cilantro.
This week I prepared Thai Chili Lime Rice.
I enjoy this rice as a side dish, but I’ve also combined it with black beans and stuffed some blistered peppers for a complete meal. This is a great dish to heat up and enjoy throughout the week, served with a side of greens.
You can use either brown or white rice, short grain or long, depending on your preference.
Thai Chili Lime Rice Stuffed Peppers
3 cups cooked rice
Juice and zest from 1 lime
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, well minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 green Thai Chili, sliced into very thin rounds (remove seeds or use the lower half of the pepper to reduce heat)
½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
15 ounce can black beans, liquid strained
8 peppers, such as Anaheim, blistered, skin, stem and seeds discarded
1 cup shredded mozzarella or jack cheese
Once the rice is done cooking, let it rest and come to room temperature. In a mixing bowl combine lime juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, ground cumin, sesame oil and Thai chilies. Mix and let sit for about 30 minutes while the rice is coming to room temperature.
Place rice in a mixing bowl, add the Thai chili mixture, and very gently fold into the rice. Then add the cilantro and black beans and gently fold into the mixture.
Place a few spoonfuls of the mixture into one side of each pepper and fold over the top portion to close together. Continue and place in a baking dish. Top with cheese and cover the dish. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and contents are warm. Serve with a side of greens.
Yield: Serves 4.