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October 1, 2009

Pimientos de Padron

Filed under: Food, Spain, Travel — anotherheader @ 4:13 am

Preparing pimentos de Padron at home

Preparing pimientos de Padron at home

There was just no denying it.  We came back from Spain with a serious hankering for pimientos de Padron.  Somewhere, with our nine plates of these little green peppers in Spain, we’d become addicted.  No late night shakes and cold sweats, mind you.  Instead, relentless cravings and prototypical pepper seeking behavior were the main pimientos de Padron withdrawal symptoms.

Back in the States, we looked for a local chapter of Pimientos de Padron Anonymous.  We couldn’t find one.  Our cravings continued unabated and our pepper seeking behavior led us on a search for a replacement in California.

First I tried preparing other types of peppers that I found in the Farmer’s Markets in the same manner used for pimientos de Padron in Spain.  My experiments were unsuccessful.  I could cook the peppers the same way, but the results did not match the Padron peppers we had in Spain.  More often than not, the peppers I cooked were thermonuclear spicy-hot with the salt and the oil only accentuating the peppers natural, lingering heat.  It was clear.  I needed real Padron peppers.  Just as we figured that we’d have to hop on a plane and head back to Spain for more peppers, pimientos de Padron starting to appear in small quantities in the Bay Area’s Farmer’s Markets.  We bought all we could find.

Here's what the peppers look like when they are finished

Here's what the peppers look like when they are finished

Preparing the peppers is easy.  Add olive oil to a hot sauté pan followed by the cleaned and dried Padron peppers.  Toss and turn on high heat until the skins are blistered-bubbly and the flesh is softened.  Off the heat, sprinkle the hot, oil coated peppers with flaky salt.  Serve as an appetizer with a glass of chilled Txakoli or a cold beer if the Basque white wine isn’t available in your fridge.

The flavor of Padron peppers is reminiscent of green bells, but the skins are thinner and flavor is less sweet and more complex.  With pimentos de Padron, the slightly bitter, appealing aftertaste lingers on the tongue.  The flaky salt keeps drawing you back to the plate for more.  While most of the peppers are mildly spicy with just a hint of heat, occasionally you catch a pepper with serious, jalapeño level spiciness.  Supposedly, larger peppers and those grown later in the season are more likely to be hot.  We haven’t done a statistical survey, but this may well be correct.  For sure, starting with a small bite on the tip of the pepper and proceeding onward when the coast is clear is the safest approach for avoiding an out of body hot pepper experience.

Padron peppers as served in San Sebastian

Padron peppers as served in San Sebastian

Are the California-grown peppers as good as the ones in Spain?  Flavor-wise, the Padron peppers we get in the Bay Area are very similar to those in Spain.  There is one difference, though.  In Spain, the size of the peppers we were served or saw in the markets was uniform.  In California, there is a lot more variation in the length and, perhaps as a result, the heat of the peppers.  California growers haven’t quite perfected the process.  I’m sure the farmers will harvest a more consistent product in California soon enough.

We are happy to have pimientos de Padron in California.  There is one problem, though.  The growing season is ending soon.  Now what are we going to do to feed our addiction?

Pimentos de Padron in La Boqueria in Barcelona

Pimientos de Padron in La Boqueria in Barcelona

Our pepper eating exploits, along with other details, are included here:

More on Padron peppers:


  1. You are positively the Pied Piper of Pimentos de Padron.

    Comment by surlypeach — October 2, 2009 @ 12:45 am

  2. You are not alone, I also have a padron addiction. I’m lucky enough to live in Spain where I can easily feed my habit though.

    Maybe we can start some sort of support group.

    If you fancy another suggestion of something wonderful to do with padrons, then try this recipe:

    Comment by John Pope — November 19, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  3. i get ya.. actually, the last 2 visits totally missed out on the really bummed..then we get back and i find these peppers at the store and look em up online

    Shishitos! from japan, look and taste like padrons, i’ve read they are originally from Portugal, but my guess is a few miles further north to Galicia ;-D. they are a bit longer but that’s the only real dif for me.

    we found some at our local korean market (oakland) and fried em up..oh yeah..the hankerin is gone, and btw..waaay cheaper than that local purveyor of padrons.

    Comment by Lisa — August 7, 2010 @ 8:31 am

  4. […] no time in San Sebastian passed before we were in a pinxtos bar ordering plates of Pimientos de Padron.  If we didn’t set the record for the shortest time in the city before Padrons were ordered we […]

    Pingback by Spain: San Sebastian, Take Two « Another Header — November 7, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

  5. I love padron peppers! It’s prime padron season here in San Francisco, you can find them in various places around town (I got mine from Happy Boy Farms at the Castro Farmer’s Market the last 2 weeks).

    Comment by JeskaD (@JeskaD) — September 16, 2011 @ 3:01 am

  6. […] our first visit to Northern Spain we’ve had a strong affinity for pimentos de Padrón.  These some times spicy little green peppers are addictive; our cravings have led to clinical […]

    Pingback by Spain: Padrón « Another Header — December 7, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

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