I have recently been tweaking a recipe for a dumpling filling based on shrimp and pork. It is still a work in progress but I came across some Baby Bell Peppers at the Supermarket the other day and it inspired me to try combining the two in a Dim-Sum style appetizer…
- 12 Baby Bell Peppers (more or less);
- 1/2lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined;
- 1/4lb ground Pork;
- 1 small Scallion, minced;
- 1/3 tsp. Ginger Paste;
- 1 pinch each Pepper and Garlic Salt.
To make the stuffing for the peppers, you first need to chop the shrimp coarsely.
Next, put two thirds of the chopped shrimp into a bowl and mash well with a fork. Add the ground pork and continue to mash and stir until you have a fairly smooth and homogenous paste.
Now, add the remaining shrimp, the scallion, ginger and the seasonings and mix together. Set the mixture aside to chill in the fridge for an hour or so.
I chose two different methods to prepare the chilies before stuffing… In the first, you need to slice each pepper in half horizontally from the tip, stopping just short of slicing through the cap. Once done, clear away as much of the ribs and seeds as you can with the tip of a paring knife. With very small peppers, you can just about omit this step, but it is advisable to do so with the larger ones.
Here you can see the peppers stuffed after slicing with the first method. You could, if you wished, use only enough stuffing to let the two halves close completely but with very small peppers that would reduce the amount of stuffing a bit too much, in my opinion.
The other method of preparing the peppers is to simply slice of the caps and then remove the ‘guts’ from the top.
Here are a couple of the peppers I stuffed via the top opening. I have replaced the caps and then used toothpicks to hold them in place during cooking. With some of the other peppers, I discarded the tops and put in extra stuffing, forming it into nice mounds over the rim of each opening.
You can probably cook the peppers any number of ways but, for this batch, I did some by steaming, some by grilling, and some using a combination of the two. Above you can see some peppers that were steamed for about twenty minutes. The filling is properly cooked and the peppers are tender but still retain a little crispy ‘bite’. Once steamed, they can be served immediately while still hot, or else allowed to cool and served chilled or at room temperature. By the way, you can see the amount of liquid that was thrown off during steaming… It didn’t occur to me until later that I could probably have saved this to use as a sauce base…
You can grill the peppers either on a barbecue or a ridged grill-pan but, in either case, you should keep the heat to a low-moderate. The result, with this method, is to get some nice caramelization of the pepper flesh and a little smokiness from the grill marking. As with steaming, the cooking time will depend on the size of your peppers (these took about 15 to 20 minutes), and, again, you can serve them hot or cold.
These peppers (the same as in the very first photograph), were steamed and then grilled. The beauty of this method is that you can cook the peppers completely ahead of time and then later do a quick grilling to re-heat and add some additional flavor in a much shorter time.
By the way, the sauce I used here is just a little rice wine mixed with sugar and just a few drops of Sriracha Sauce and Soy Sauce, while the garnish is a few rings along with some shreds of Jalapeno. This particular sauce makes a nice accompaniment to the peppers when served hot but you can substitute almost anything that suits your fancy.
Finally, here is another presentation that I came up with for a very small, cold appetizer. As you can see, the thin cross-wise slices have a rather attractive appearance. I served the rings with just a little squirt of Sriracha Sauce and the result was very nice indeed.