In conversation with Raf Epstein, 774 ABC Melbourne, 28 Mar 2017
Alice Zaslavsky, food educator and author of Alice’s A to Z, takes on the versatile capsicum, or bell pepper, on Foodie Tuesday. And we ask whether red is the default favourite colour, or do some people really like green capsicums more?
Capsicum or bell pepper? Call it what you will, this fruit masquerading as a vegetable is sweet and piquant, lending its flavour to the well-loved paprika.
How to shop:
Look for firm flesh and no wrinkles. Ideally there should be some level of aroma if you’re lucky, too.
How to store:
Store them in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your fridge. They’re very sensitive to smells and gases in general, so avoid letting them spend too much time around apples, pears and especially bananas.
How to prep:
If serving raw, pull out the stem and much of the seeds, then cut away any pith and get rid of any leftover seeds into the compost. Place skin-side down to cut, using a sharp flat blade.
How to cook:
Grill, sauté, braise, roast, deep fry, chargrill.
How to use:
Salads, soups, stews, casseroles, marinated, barbecued skewers, pickled peppers.
Here are the 8 basic steps for chargrilling capsicum at home – which I *highly* recommend you do, because you’ll never buy it from the shops again.
1. Char capsicum on all sides over an open flame (BBQ/oven is ok too – especially if you’re packin’ an electric/induction cooktop!)
2. Cover with foil for about 5-10 mins to allow it to cool enough to handle, and to help steam off the skin.
3. Use the foil to peel off the skin (this is great for friction AND helps protect your fingertips from burning hot magma)
4. Pull off the stem (which’ll help with getting rid of most of the seeds), deseed, rinse and slice
5. Cover with your chosen marinade
6. Pop in salads, sangas, wraps, antipasti platters
7. Use the leftover oil for dressings/sauce (it’s especially nice drizzled over anything Mediterranean, like some crusty bruschetta with feta)
8. Submerged in oil, this can keep in the fridge for a couple of months!
© 2017 Alice Zaslavsky