Photo by Rachael Brugger
If you grow jalapeño peppers and you’re wondering what to do with them this summer, there’s nothing like transforming your bumper crop into a gourmet appetizer.
On a recent road trip to the Key Largo and Islamorada Food and Wine Festival, held in the Florida Keys every January, we frequented Chef Andrew Tsang’s table to taste his tropical, crispy-creamy version of a pepper popper. His recipe (provided below) has the perfect amount of heat and sweetness, and as one of the benefits of meeting chefs at food festivals, we picked up a few of his preparation tricks, like hardening the poppers in a freezer before frying.
When making this jalapeño popper recipe, it can be a challenge getting your hands on sustainably sourced shrimp—this is true in Florida and anywhere else on the planet. As far as shellfish go, shrimp rank high in popularity, according to the National Fisheries Institute. Unfortunately, in many countries where shrimp are farmed, water pollution from the process can be just as bad as the devastation of mangroves to make way for the farms. Alternatively, the by-catch that results from netting the shrimp on the open ocean can take a huge toll on non-target species, many of which are killed in the process.
Chef Tsang knows this all too well. In fact, last year he talked with us about how he liked to prepare a ceviche with lionfish, an exotic fish species consuming the native reef fish in the Keys.
However, you can more sustainable shrimp options, like Oregon pink shrimp, certified by the Marine Stewardship Council; Maine pinks; or U.S. wild caught or farmed shrimp, a good choice per the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Of course, there’s often a price to pay for eating with a conscience.
While we’re not going to be raising shrimp on our Midwestern farm anytime soon, we’re definitely planning to add some jalapeños to the garden especially for this recipe. As a substitute for the mango, we’ll be using a ripe peach to add some locally sourced sweetness. We’ll also use our own homemade bread crumbs.
Recipe: Shrimp and Mango Jalapeño Poppers
Recipe courtesy Chef Andrew Tsang, Snapper’s Waterfront Restaurant in Key Largo, Fla.
Yield: 40 appetizers
- 8 ounces shrimp (raw chopped)
- 1 ounces blackening seasoning
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 ripe mango, diced small
- 20 large jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups egg wash (eggs mixed with milk or water)
- 4 cups Japanese bread crumbs
- oil for frying
- salsa, for garnish
- cilantro, for garnish
In skillet over medium heat, cook shrimp with blackening seasoning. Allow shrimp to cool, then mix with cream cheese and mango.
Stuff jalapeño halves generously with shrimp-mango mixture. Place stuffed jalapeños in freezer to harden.
Once stuffed jalapeños are frozen, remove from freezer. Flour each stuffed jalepeño, coat in egg wash and dredge in Japanese bread crumbs.
Fry each jalapeño popper in 330-degrees-F oil for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve immediately, garnished with salsa and cilantro.
Savoring the good life,