Today I woke up wishing to go visit again my childhood hometown. I grew up by the beach in a lovely port in Mexico called Veracruz. I longed for its people... so friendly and warm hearted. I miss its local repertoire of traditional dishes, and the salty smell of the Gulf of Mexico. Today I stepped aside form my sewing table to cook "chiles rellenos" or stuffed Jalapeno peppers. Preparing the peppers themselves is quite a craft. I had to carve out all the seeds and the veins of the pepper carefully not to break apart the pepper. It has to stay in one piece!! I did have the patience to do so, and they turned out delicious, and not extremely spicy. Just because of that I decided to share the recipe with you.
Here is to you the way I cook them today.
10 large Jalapeno peppers
1 teaspoon of instant coffee
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cans of tuna in water
1 small tomato chopped
1 small onion. 1/2 in thin slices, 1/2 minced
1 small carrot in slices
1 bay leave.
a teaspoon or so of sugar to caramelize the onions
salt and pepper
The crafty part of this dish is the cleaning of the peppers. Cut the top of the pepper only half way, then cut open the pepper all along one side. Remove the veins and the seeds carefully. Yep, it stings in your fingers, and make you cough if the peppers are really spicy.
Rinse them and put them to boil with the instant coffee, salt and sugar for ten minutes. Rinse them again in cold water and set them aside. In a separate pan heat some olive oil, add the minced onion, and the chopped tomato, salt, and pepper to taste. Drain the water from the canned tuna and add the tuna to the onion and the tomato. Let it cook for 5 to 10 min. In another pan, heat some olive oil. Add the sliced onions, and the carrots, let them sizzle a bit until the onion looks almost cooked. Add a splash of white vinegar, salt, pepper, and a bit of thyme. Then add 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar to caramelized the onions, and lower the heat. Let it cook for another 5 min. When the tuna is cold, take your Jalapeno peppers and stuff them one by one. Be careful not to loose the tops of your peppers. I was well warned by my mom, and I still lost a few. Arrange then in a plate. Top them with the caramelized onions and carrots. Let them get cold for a couple of hours in the fridge. Enjoy them with warm corn tortillas and a super cold Mexican beer.
It feels incredibly sad that my hometown is no longer existing as the place I grew up in. It's now one of the most dangerous places in Mexico. It's a place where cross fire is part of the day to day. People loose their friends, and families in the hands of kidnappers, and sicarios (paid assassins.) It's a place where dusk announces an unofficial curfew for all its inhabitants. If you're the kind of people who prays, please pray for peace in Veracruz.