Ok. Let’s get it straight. This post is for the chili-lover. Because it does involve the consumption of those little fiery fruits that are known to irritate the oral cavity as well as the digestive tract. If you don’t particularly subscribe to the masochistic practice of burning your mouth for pleasure, you are more than welcome to stick to the safer stuffed bell pepper. But you really can’t describe that as dynamite, can you?
So what of these edible firecrackers? They’re a brilliant idea. I first discovered them while making a stop at a line of street food stalls inside my university campus. They reminded me of the breaded jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese, only these weren’t encased in crispy panko but wrapped in skins like a spring roll. They’re stuffed with cheese but the processed kind and I’m quite positive I bit into some minced beef. They’re served piping hot with a generous dollop of nuclear orange sauce (actually mayo with a bit of prepared sweet chili sauce).
Salivating with anticipation, I took a small bite careful not to scorch my tongue. It was crispy, greasy and unbelievably… not spicy. That was because upon closer inspection, all the seeds and membrane inside the pepper were removed. I took another bite. The same reaction. And I didn’t even bother dunking it in the sauce. It was simply forgettable. I thought it quite disappointing that those sticks didn’t live up to the name given them.
But like I said, the idea was brilliant. And I decided that my kitchen was the perfect place to express it.
Loosely inspired by Mexico’s popular chile relleno, I sauteed minced beef and flavored it with prepared taco seasoning. I used a mild cheddar but you can choose any cheese you like as long as they melt nicely. Although I deemed it important to retain the membrane and seeds to experience that nice heat, I did have to remove some of the seeds to make room for the mince and cheese. Otherwise, it would have been all chili pepper and guaranteed arson in your mouth!
In place of that scary-looking, tasteless mayo served in the street version, I made some cool garlicky sour cream to counter the fire. For the hardcore, it really isn’t necessary.
So tell me, who’s up for a sizzle?
Makes 8-10 sticks
|125 gms||minced beef|
|2 tbsp||taco seasoning mix|
|salt and pepper to taste|
|250 ml||sour cream|
|6 cloves||garlic, minced|
|8-10 med||green finger chilis|
|75 gms||mild cheddar cheese, cut into sticks|
|8-10 pcs||spring roll skins|
|vegetable oil for frying|
Wash chilis and pat dry. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, sauté minced beef in a little oil until browned. Sprinkle with taco seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Drain on a sieve lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Set aside.
Take each chili and with a very sharp knife, make an incision from just underneath the stem down the whole length of the chili, careful not to splice the tip. From the same spot under the stem, make a crosswise incision about halfway through the diameter of the chili top. Carefully unfurl the chili and remove most of the seed attached to the base of the stem.
Fill the cavity of the pepper with minced meat, leaving some space for the cheese.
Place a cheese stick on top of the meat. Tightly wrap the stuffed pepper in a spring roll skin and set aside. Repeat with remaining peppers.
Heat the vegetable oil to medium and fry the chili sticks in batches until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels.
In a bowl, whip all the ingredients for the sauce until well blended. Serve with the chili sticks.