Tiger Skin Peppers, or 虎皮尖椒, are seared to blister and mark the flesh, and then finished in a sauce of Vinegar, Soy Sauce and Sugar
Tiger Peppers, or 虎皮尖椒 (hu pi jian jiao) are so named because of the characteristic patterns that form on chillies when seared at very high, giving them a ‘tiger skin’ like appearance. Once seared, the chillies are finished with a simple sauce composed of Chinese Black Vinegar, soy sauce, and a little sugar. Here, I am rounding that out with some chopped garlic as well.
Ingredient Notes for Tiger Skin Peppers
Here are the chillies I am using. Any largish green chillies will work but this particular type is a variety of the New Mexico Chilli known the ‘Anaheim’. It is probably about the mildest chilli one can find and is nicely sweet. For preparation, you can, as some do, cut off the tops and remove the seeds, but I like to leave them whole. In either event, you need to brush the outside with a little oil before proceeding.
The Recipe Card below calls simply for Chinese Black Vinegar. However, you should, if possible try to locate 镇江香醋, or Chinkiang (Zhènjiāng) Vinegar, which is made in Jiangsu Province in China. This is very easy to source in Asian grocery stores but if you cannot locate it, you could substitute a Western Malt Vinegar instead. In a pinch, you could also use regular White Vinegar, but this will yield a much sharper result.
How to Make 虎皮尖椒
Before starting to cook the chillies, you will need to have your finishing sauce on hand. Simply blend together the Garlic, Soy Sauce, Vinegar and the Sugar, then let this sit for at least twenty minutes to blend the flavors.
To sear the chillies, heat a little oil in a suitable pan over the highest flame until it is all but smoking. Add the chillies and allow them to sear in multiple paces, turning them from time to time. You will see that this operation produces quite a bit of smoke and the ‘smoky’ flavour produced is one of the characteristics of the dish.
To get the chillies soft enough for service would probably cause them to be too charred if kept at high heat so add a quarter cup or so of water to get some steaming action. Some people cook the chillies until very soft but I like a little ‘bite’ to remain and you can press down with a spatula periodically and get a feel for how things are going. Once softened sufficiently, and after the water has evaporated, you can continue searing (if necessary) to get the right ‘look’.
Finally, add your sauce and let it quickly reduce to form a nice glaze. Plate and serve while still hot. If desired, you can sprinkle over a little ground chili, both to add a little extra fire, and for an attractive garnish.
Your Recipe Card:
Tiger Skin Peppers – 虎皮尖椒
- 3 Large Green Chillies;
- 1 Tbsp. Garlic finely chopped;
- 3 Tbsp. Chinese Black Vinegar;
- 3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce;
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. Sugar;
- Blend together the Soy Sauce, Vinegar, Sugar, and Garlic, and allow this to sit for twenty minutes to blend the flavor.
- Brush the Chillies with oil.
- Heat a little more oil in a pan over high heat until smoking.
- Add the Chillies to the pan and cook on all sides until the skin begins to blister and char in patches.
- Add a quarter cup of water to the pan and cook the chillies until softened by the steam. Add more water, if necessary, and continue until the desired softness is reached.
- Add the sauce mix to the pan and cook until somewhat thickened.
- Plate and serve while hot.