Sassy Sauteed Bell Peppers
This recipe from The What To Fix For Dinner Cookbook, was created by Caprial Pence when she was head chef at Fullers in Seattle’s Sheraton Hotel. The fresh, slightly spicy flavor, crunchy texture and amazing colors are gorgeous along side grilled fish (usually white), chicken, pork, Italian sausage or flank steak.
These peppers will draw wows every time.
- If you are not used to the julienne cut, cook this recipe first for just two people. You’ll get cutting practice without feeling overwhelmed. Use a cutlet or cleaner style knife; they are smaller, narrow and slightly flexible.
- Sharpen your knife before you cut. A dull edge will not slice through the pepper easily, and if it’s pointing toward your fingers and slips, your likely to get cut.
- The pith of cooked bell pepper can be mushy. These peppers are crunchy because the pith is removed, the strips are only 1/4″ thick and they are barely cooked. It’s important to cut away all of the pith, so plan on repeat efforts until you get used to the knife in a new position.
- Choose bright colored, firm peppers. Off season, bell peppers can be less flavorful so taste each one. If the flavor needs boosting add a tiny bit of sugar to the lemon juice.
- All four colors together make a dramatic presentation, so if you are cooking for less than 6 people, choose smaller peppers.
- The peppers will be done in less than 5 minutes, and it is important not to overcook them. So watch carefully and take them off heat just as soon as they are slightly softened.
- Green, red and yellow bell peppers are a great source of vitamin C (apparently the FDA hasn’t discovered the orange ones).
4 Bell peppers: 1 red, 1yellow, 1 orange, and 1 green
2 tbs. Extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. Grated fresh ginger or chopped pickled ginger used with sushi
8-10 Flakes dehydrated red chili or ¼ tsp. Chinese Chili Paste
2 tbs. Fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. Granulated sugar if necessary (see Hint #4), mixed with lemon juice
- To julienne cut peppers, cut each one in half and remove the stem and seeds. Cut the halves into two or three sections.
- As shown above, place each section skin side down on a cutting board. Hold the section flat with one hand and with the other, carefully slice the pith away from the flesh leaving the piece only ¼” thick. Set the flesh aside for another use*. Repeat the process with one half of each pepper if they are large, and all of them if they are small.
- Place the pieces one at a time onto the board, skin side down. With your fingers facing down, your thumb tucked under your palm and your hand in a slightly clutched position, place your fingertips on the pepper section and hold it in place.
- Hold the knife blade against your knuckles, slightly slanted away from your hand.
- Cut the pepper into very thin strips. If the knife is kept in that position, you will be able to control the width of the slices without cutting yourself. Repeat with all the sections.
- Heat oil over medium high heat in a skillet large enough to hold all slices with room to move them around. The peppers will steam and get soft if they are crowded. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the pepper strips. Using tongs, move the peppers continuously so they won’t clump together and steam. Sauté the strips until they all have touched the hot surface enough to be slightly softened and hot.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Add lemon juice, ginger and chili, tossing to cover all the strips. Divide them among preheated plates and serve immediately.
*The leftover flesh and pith can be pureed and used in soups, as base for simple sauces or added to a stock bag. Julienne cut extra pepper halves and add them to slaws and green salads.