Saturday, 23 February 2013

Pimientos Rellenos

On our first trip to Ronda a couple of years ago the Gentleman discovered just what I'm made of. More precisely that you don't mess with low blood sugar or your risking the emergence of a monstrous personality of Hulk- like proportions. But showing food down my throat will shut me up and make the whining stop!

For lunch that day I had Spanish speciality called Pimientos Rellenos, peppers stuffed with fish. For the longest time I tried to figure out the secret to the beautiful sauce - seafood stock just might be the answer. And now that I've been going through ridiculous quantities of shellfish, I finally got around to trying the dish at home.

The stuffing is, depending on the day, place and availability pretty much anything you can get your hands on, but the foundation is bechamel sauce. For the stuffing the bechamél needs to be firm, so it is recommended that you make it the day before. If that's not possible, use less liquid, but even so, let the mixture cool and set for a while.

The peppers used for this dish are piquillo peppers, sweet, rectangular delicacies that are sold in jars. They have been roasted and peeled and are ready to use, either as such, in salads or stuffed like this. If those are not available, you can use any similar product, though these, stored in oil, are in my opinion better than the Greek variety that is often pickled in vinegary liquid. You could, of course, roast and peel your own, but at least my fingers aren't nimble enough to get the skin off leaving the small peppers intact. Though you could also stuff some regular red peppers, in which case the stuffing is enough for approximately 3 small peppers. If you like, you could also add some cheese.

The spare (and broken) piquillo peppers I used for the sauce, but those too can be substituted with regular roasted peppers. Roast them in a grill (or in the oven, hight heat) until the skin turns black and starts bubbling. Let them cool for a bit in a plastic bag  and pull the skin off. Do not rinse, as this just rinses off so much of the flavour.

The fish used in this is usually bacalao (cod?) or merluz, but I used panga since we happened to have some. I would imagine any white, firm fish would do. 

This recipe makes enough for 2 portions of 4 pimientos each.


1 small onion/ one half of a large one
the zest of 1/2 lemon
300 g white, firm fish
2 rkl seafood stock
2 heaped tbsp flour
2 5 dl milk, heated
sprinkling of nutmeg
handful of chopped parsley
salt, pepper

Heat some oil in a pan. Add the lemon zest, chopped onion and fry until the onion is soft and transluscent. Add the fish, chopped into chunks and let cook for a while. Then add the flour . Keep stirring and make sure the flour doesn't burn. Add the stock and stir vigorously. Then add milk, whisking continuously. Let simmer in medium heat so that the flour cooks and the sauce comes together. Don't fret if the fish chunks get mashed around a bit. Add the nutmeg and parsley. Finish off with the seasoning. Let cool, preferably until the next day.

The following day stuff the peppers with the stuffing and heat in the oven in low heat until they're warm (they're not even supposed to be piping hot). In the meanwhile make the sauce.


1/2 onion
6 piquillo peppers
(or 2 regular  red peppers, roasted and peeled)
1/2 tsp garlic, chopped
1 tsp pimiento or any other paprika
2 tsp tomato paste
1,5 dl seafood stock
1/2 tsp orange zest
dash of sherry or dry white wine
1/2 tsp dill
2 heaped tbsp Turkish yoghurt
(or appr. 1,5 dl cream)
salt, pepper

Fry the garlic, onion and paprika in some oil. As the onion has softened, blizz it to a paste with the peppers. Add the sherry/ wine into the pan to lift all the flavours. Then add the orange zest and tomato paste. Stir for a while and then add the shellfish stock and papper and onion paste. Let bubble away under the lid for about 10 minutes so the sauce thickens and the flavour some together. Then add dill and cream/ yoghurt for desired creaminess. Season and serve with the peppers.

Oh, you're wondering about the pile of leaves in the middle of the plate as opposed to one carefully placed elegant sprig? Because I did not make the stuffing in advance. Because that would have required planning and organizational skills...

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