Panko Crusted Poppers
(for Chile Pepper Magazine)
Yield: 4 poppers * Zest Factor: Hot
Have you ever wondered how the heck to get a perfect crust on those waxy jalapenos? Well I have. I have spent maddening nights working on beer batters, bread crumbs, you name it. Ah-but I had yet to try panko.
canola oil for deep frying
4 jalapeno peppers, top cap and stem removed, seeded and deveined
½ cup grated cheddar cheese (make it a brimming cup)
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water
1 cup panko crumbs, crumbled almost to dust (very fine)
Bring a small sauce pan full of canola oil up to 350°. Stuff your jalapeno peppers with cheddar cheese, filling to the max. In a small bowl, make your egg batter by combining flour, corn starch and egg. Mix with a fork and add water a tablespoon at a time until the batter is thick but workable. Drop your jalapenos one by one into the egg batter, coat all edges and quickly drop into your panko crumbs before batter has a second to shift. Complete the crust by rolling the jalapenos through the panko until coated on all sides. Patch any missed spots with additional egg batter and panko.
Carefully drop your poppers into your frying oil. Fry 3-4 minutes until golden brown and flaky, remove with a slotted spoon to preserve the crust. Let dry on a paper towel lined plate and season with salt. Serve warm and congratulate yourself on a perfect popper crust.