Puerto Aventuras – Rajas Poblanas from Chef Danny at Latitude 20
The weekly cooking classes at Latitude 20 restaurant are packed every week. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn authentic Mexican and other South American cooking from the knowledgeable Chef Danny and meet other people in the community who clearly have an interest in learning about local cuisine. Although no reservations are required to attend the class (you can just show up) Danny is never phased by the number of people (anywhere from 20 to almost 40) and is somehow prepared to make and serve food for everyone in his typical friendly and relaxed manner. Part of the reason for that is that Danny is highly organized and together with his sous chef helping in the kitchen, conducts a clean, organized and fun operation. Latitude 20 has published a cookbook of Danny’s recipe that is available for purchase at the restaurant.
Last week’s class had a few great recipe one of which was this rajas poblanas. Poblanas refers to the Poblano peppers and rajas means strips, which is essentially what this dish is, strips of roasted poblano peppers. Danny mixed them with a bunch of mushrooms and sauteed them in a little oil with onion, a little stock and sour cream. This dish does not photograph as well because the colours are muted but believe me, it was delicious. I made it at home and served it alongside green Mexican rice and it was delicious. this can also be stuffed into tortillas as a filling, or served a side dish to other foods.
Poblanos are chile peppers prevalent in Mexican cooking and are readily available here at local markets. A little more difficult to find back at home but when I see them i buy them. Dried poblanos are called ancho chile and are wonderful for making sauces as well as stuffed (yes, delicious). Poblanos are always roasted to remove the outer thin skin. Ideally you want to roast the poblanos over fire such as gas flame, but alternatively you can broil it under very hot broiler until the skin is charred and blackened. Once charred you leave the peppers covered for a few minutes and then remove the blackened skin which by then peels off quite easily. This is the same preparation as you would use to make chile rellenos, only here you cut the poblano into strips.
Poblano flesh by itself is not very hot.The heat in the poblanos resides mostly in the seeds and veins. Poblanos rate about 1000-2000 on the Scoville scale.The Scoville scale measures the capcaisin level in chile peppers and ranges from 0 to 15,000,000 for pure capcaisin. The common red chile pepper rate at 50-100K and habanero at 100-350K. The rajas poblanas dish is lightly spicy and if you want to reduce the heat try removing all the seeds and pull off the stringy veins. I remove the seeds and find the dish fine for my palate with out much further ado.
As an side, if your skin gets irritated from capcaisin working with hot peppers apply either acid (vinegar) or salt, these should neutralize the acid burn of the capcaisin. I learned that the hard way and heard about the solution from the Mexican housekeeping staff here as well as from Chef Claudia of Can Cook in Cancun school. However, use this advice at your own risk. When working with peppers, no matter how mild or hot, do not touch your skin and wear gloves if you have to.
As another aside, what is the correct spelling for chile peppers? is it chili or chile? Apparently chile is more prevalent in Spanish speaking countries so I am sticking with that spelling, but suit yourself.
So now to Danny’s recipe.
Serves 4 as a side dish.
5 poblano chiles
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced into strips
10 white or brown mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms)
1 tablespoon stock
1 cup sour cream
Roast the chiles over open flame or under a broiler until the skin is blackened and blistered. Turn the peppers to roast the on all sides. Place in a bowl and cover to let the peppers steam, it makes it easier to peel off the skin.
When cool enough to handle peel off the blackened skin (you can do it under water) and then pull of the stem end together with the seeds and cut the peppers into strips.
Heat the oil in the skillet, add the onion and cook until softened.
Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring until they soften.
Add the poblano strips and stir until heated through.
Add the chicken stock and sour cream and cook until thick and bubbly stirring frequently.