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The Best Technique for Peeling Peppers, Chiles

March 09, 1989|JOAN DRAKE | Times Staff Writer

"Peeling peppers is a matter of personal taste and culture," according to "Cooking Techniques" (Little, Brown and Company: 1981) by Beverly Cox, with Joan Whitman. They go on to write: "Mexicans always peel their hot peppers, the Chinese never do. Italians usually roast sweet peppers and then remove the charred, papery skin."

The directions for roasting and peeling both sweet peppers and hot chiles are the same. When working with chiles, however, it's advisable to wear plastic or rubber gloves and avoid touching your face or eyes. These hot peppers contain an oil that may raise welts on tender skin.

Using tongs or a long-handled fork, hold the pepper over a gas flame (Step 1) or charcoal fire. Peppers may also be placed on a baking sheet and broiled about one inch from the heat source. Whatever method is used, turn the peppers often, until the skin on all sides is blistered and charred.

Next, place the charred peppers in a plastic bag (Step 2), seal and let stand about 15 minutes. This steams the peppers and makes them easy to peel.

Remove the peppers from the bag and peel the skin away with a paring knife (Step 3) or your fingers. Holding the peppers under running water also aids in removing the charred skin and internal seeds. Pat dry with paper towels, and the peppers are ready to used as directed in recipes; or marinate them in a little olive oil, garlic and fresh oregano and serve as an appetizer or accompaniment.

Suggestions for column topics may be sent to Back to Basics, Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.

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