Last year the Facebook vegan group I'm in held a weekly cooking challenge that was so much fun. The aim was to veganize popular international dishes and share the recipes. That's how I came to know about jalapeño poppers, these fabulous appetizers that are hot, crunchy and filled with melted cheese.
Jalapeño poppers (also called armadillo eggs) are a South-American speciality, thought to be a version of the Mexican chile relleno. Making them is quite simple: peppers are seeded, stuffed, breaded and deep-fried. I couldn't find fresh jalapeños and instead used these chilis which are hot enough for this dish.
This is not an actual recipe because I didn't measure the ingredients and besides you can change the filling to anything you like.
What you need...
- chili peppers
- vegan mozzarella cheese (try to use trans-fat-free)
- egg replacer
- golden breadcrumbs
- oil for frying
- Make one cut lengthwise into the peppers and, holding them from both ends, press to open them up a bit. Using a small knife remove seeds and membranes. Keep the stem on to handle them easily.
- Grate mozzarella using the large side of the grater and carefully stuff the peppers with it. Get creative and add any spices or herbs you like, or make it pizza-like by adding finely chopped tomatoes, basil, oregano, vegan sausage etc. Close the peppers properly.
- Mix the egg replacer powder with water according to the instructions on the pack and if needed add a little more water to make a thick, runny paste that will stick to the peppers. Note: if you don't find egg replacer, just make a paste using flour and water, works just as well.
- Add breadcrumbs to a bowl. Dip the peppers in egg paste, covering them well up to the stem. Roll them through breadcrumbs, pressing gently to mix them with the paste and stick to the peppers. Repeat the process to double coat the peppers for a very crispy crust, starting with the first pepper you breaded. When all are done, let them sit for a few minutes on a plate. This way the crumbs will absorb the moisture from the paste and the breading will harden, making it easy to fry without cracking.
- Heat enough oil in a pan for deep-frying. Keep the heat on medium and watch how fast the first popper gets done. It should turn golden-brown and crispy. If it becomes dark too fast and cracks, reduce the heat. If the crust takes time to change colour and absorbs oil, turn the heat up a bit.
- When done, remove the poppers onto paper towels to get rid of excess oil. Be careful not to eat them straight away, the cheese inside is very hot and steamy. Let them rest for a few minutes and serve with your favourite dip or salsa. The one I made is the basic: onion, garlic, tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, basil.
These appetizers are excellent to turn the heat up a bit at a gathering. Enjoy!
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