Sure, I can be hot-headed but I never knew I’m hot-blooded too, until recently.
Everyone warned me to prepare myself mentally for my first Texan summer. Before I arrived in Austin, I winced whenever I heard my friends complain about how unbearable the scorching summers are.
When I arrived at the airport from Portland, I felt oddly comfortable. After enduring the rainiest and coldest excuse of a spring/ summer in Vancouver, I was relieved to feel my pores open up. There and then, I soaked up the heat into my perma-chilly body.
With all respect, Texas heat is no laughing matter. I sweat from walking mere steps from my car to the closest air conditioned establishment. The most intolerable moment is opening the car door after it’s been baking under the unrelenting sun. From the dizzying suffocation of the furnace-hot air to the sharp sear on my legs from the leather seats, entering a hot Texan car can be summed up as: inhumane.
Besides that, I discovered that I prefer the dry heat over Vancouver’s constant, nippy drizzle. I love the sweltering walk to the pool and diving into the revitalizing water. Watching the sunset on an outdoor patio, with mist from the whirring fans superficially cooling my skin, a chilled cocktail has never tasted so good. I’m never stranded outside wearing the wrong shoes when the sky changes its mind; flip flops are infallible.
Then there’s this: grilling the most robust summer vegetables, throwing on a thick slab of meat, and attempting to cool off with pitchers of sangria. Call me a simpleton but these are the days that I live for. It’s too hot to cook anything elaborate so I’ve been on a grilled salad kick (here and here). I also load up on peaches, avocados, mangoes, and whatever else is pricier back home.
Then there are Hatch Chiles (aka Hatch Green Chiles or Hatch Peppers). Hailing from New Mexico, these long, fleshy green peppers are so well-loved that they have a dedicated festival every Labor Day. Having never heard of them before heading down South, I relied on @TheRealMrFury to show me how to prep them. There are mild and hot varieties, and some stores even sell them roasted. We naturally decided to take matters into our own hands.
Wielding his blowtorch, he charred and blistered the skin meticulously until not a speck of green could be found. He placed them in a bowl and covered it with a towel. We proceeded to grill a fennel bulb that I carefully cut into six wedges with the layers intact. We shaved half a red onion and soaked it in ice water to take away the sting. Not wanting to mask the Hatch chiles’ flavour, we incorporated some mild goat’s cheese and a creamy avocado.
After removing the skin and de-seeding the chiles, I popped a few pieces into my mouth. They’re juicy, sweet, and have a bright green flavour with a tinge of a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. The heat built up ever so slowly, starting at the jaw and creeping to the tip of the tongue. The avocado and goat’s cheese’s cooling affect tamed the heat – thank goodness. These humble looking peppers definitely lived up to their hype. If you’re ever down South in the summer, give these delicately hot peppers a try.
Heat on heat is the only way to go.
Hatch Green Chile Pepper Salad Recipe
- 3 Hatch chiles. Substitute with poblanos if not available
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into 6 wedges
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/2 red onion, shaved thinly and soaked in ice water
- 1/2 cup goat cheese
- 1 lime, zest and juice
- olive oil
- salt and cayenne pepper
- Char the chile with a blowtorch or directly on the flame over a gas stove. Place the chile in a bowl and cover tightly until cooled
- Meanwhile, rub the fennel bulbs with oil, salt, and pepper. Grill slowly until tender.
- Peel and de-seed, and slice the cooled chile.
- To plate, place three fennel bulbs on the plate. Divide the chile in between. Place the avocado slices on the fennel and top with goat’s cheese. Scatter the onion shavings on top.
- Whisk together the lime juice and zest, 1/4 cup of oil, 1 tsp honey, salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Drizzle on the salad and sprinkle on additional cayenne pepper.