Monday, June 6, 2011

mushroom-poblano tacos (and jalapeno hell)

For our taco night the other weekend, I did a search on Epicurious (one of my favorite dinner party-planning resources) for vegetarian tacos, and I found a recipe involving mushrooms and poblano chiles. I've noticed dark green poblanos (also called pasillas) at the supermarket for years but had never actually bought them before, so I finally had a reason to try them out.

At home, I washed the peppers and sliced them up into thin strips along with baby portobello mushrooms and a red onion. I bit into a pepper and found that it tasted really mild, almost like a bell pepper. Huh. So I grabbed a jalapeno, minced it up, and tossed it into the pan along with the other ingredients.

Fast forward twenty minutes or so: the vegetables were fully cooked, aromatic from garlic, cilantro, and cumin. And my fingers were completely on fire.

That stupid jalapeno! I cursed myself, having done this before. The burning sensation worked its way under my nails and cuticles, into tiny cuts and cracks on my hands that I didn't know existed, and started to crawl up my palms. I felt like my hands were radiating heat.

I started to freak out a little, which always leads to frantic Googling. And then I started to freak out that I was contaminating my keyboard with capsaicin. I managed to find some message board cures (always reliable, those) saying that dairy was the best way to get rid of a skin burn. I've tried this before and it didn't help, but I was desperate. So I poured a small bowl of milk and stood at the kitchen counter with my hands stuffed in the bowl.

And it didn't work. I paced around the house limp-wristed, shaking my hands pathetically. My next Google result was lime juice, supposedly what they do down in Mexico. Okay, whatever. I squeezed a few limes into a bowl and rubbed the juice and pulp over my hands. It actually seemed to do the trick. And then I dried my hands and went to do something else and the burn immediately came back.

I tried vinegar. I tried more milk. I smeared on some Greek yogurt. I went back to the lime juice. I gave up and tried ice water for a bit. Still no lasting relief.

In total desperation, I raided the medicine cabinet, looking for some nonexistent cream or liniment in which to slather my poor mitts. I grabbed a tube of Gold Bond cream and in a what-the-hell moment, rubbed half the tube on my hands. And I stood there and waited. And waited. And you know what? It worked. Eventually I had to wash it off and greet my friends, but they came bearing wine and cocktails which provided a different sort of relief.

What about those tacos, you ask? They were fine--hearty enough for meat and non-meat eaters alike. But they weren't even the least bit spicy. Of course, right?
Mushroom and poblano tacos
Adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious.
(Serves 4 to 6 people)

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
2 fresh poblano chiles, halved, seeded, thinly sliced into long strips
1 small red onion, sliced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
6 oz. crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
6 corn tortillas (or hard corn taco shells)
Chopped fresh cilantro
Crumbled feta cheese (or Cotija)
Chipotle crema

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add poblano chile, red onion, and mushrooms; sauté mixture until brown, about 5 minutes. Mix in ground cumin. Season to taste with salt. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer, draping up sides of skillet to fit. Divide mushroom mixture among tortillas, mounding on only 1 side. Place slice of Monterey Jack cheese atop filling in each tortilla. Fold plain tortilla halves over filling and press firmly. Cook until tortillas are brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer tacos to plates. Open tacos; sprinkle with chopped cilantro, crumbled feta or Cotija cheese, and toppings.


Wikes! said...

That's just the worst. I've also accidentally rubbed my eyes after handling peppers. Also not fun. I'm glad things got better in relatively short order.

Unknown said...

I've had many a warm time with jalepenos. If it is any consolation, the tacos sound great.

Nathan Hall said...

I am a HUGE fan of hot peppers which makes it so odd that this same thing happens to me. I've finally had to resort to keeping a constant supply of rubber gloves on hand, just for my pepper cutting adventures.

EB Black said...

Heh. Dr. Google has the BEST remedies.

The tacos do sound great though.

Julie said...

Whenever I cut something spicy, I inevitably touch my eye. Hate that icky burning feeling!

Lisa said...

Wikes!: Ugh, eyes ARE the worst. Nothing much you can do about that.

Tender Branson: Haha, a "warm" time.

Nathan: Smart. Vanessa suggested using Ziploc baggies.

EB Black: Haha, yes I consult Dr. Google regularly.

Julie: UGH, me too!

Daniel said...

On the bright side, I think you accidentally developed a new Momofuku recipe: jalapeno hand milk.

Vanessa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanessa said...

I like using baggies because I can drop them into the recycling bin or whatever right away and avoid risking any spicy juice contact by having to washing them or touch the faucet. I also will sometimes chop a pepper ON a baggie to avoid the same thing for my butcher block. Or hold it in the air and chop it, if uniform size doesn't matter. It is maybe wasteful and it looks stupid but I am very protective of my mucous membranes. YUM


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