A few weeks ago, we were invited to Frontera Sol de Mexico, a Tex-mex restaurant situated in Jaya One, Petaling Jaya. We’ve actually been to Frontera quite a few times, as I’ve previously performed there with my band. But this time, we had Mr Jesus Luz, a representative of Conservas La Costena in the Asia Pacific region who spent an hour or so enlightening us with facts about and the benefits of our friend, the humble chili, while we enjoyed various finger food served from Frontera’s kitchen.
Stuff you need to know: There are many health benefits associated with Chili. Here are a few examples:
- Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
- Improve Heart Health, Boost Circulation, thus help preventing Cardivascular diseases and Stroke.
- Provides Pain Relief and Reduces Inflammation
- Helps clear Congestion
- Limits Spreading of Prostate Cancer and lowers rick of Stomach Cancer
- Increases Metabolism and Burns fat.
- Improves digestive conditions (though can also cause stomach problems too, so be cautious and only consume within your limits)
- With high level of Vitamin C and Vitamin B group, chili can also boost immune system and enhance nervous system function.
Even more reason for me to add that spicy note to everything I cook. Oh, I should also mention that chili is rather addictive. Capsaicin, the natural chemical which is responsible for the burning sensation, promotes the release of endorphins, happy little buzzy things that give fuzzy feelings. That gives us the natural high and keeps us going back for more.
Introducing Jalapeño pepper, one of the most widely used Chilies in Mexico. With Scoville unit ranging from 2500 – 8000, Jalapeño is mild enough for those who can’t handle too much heat. There are many popular Tex-Mex dishes with Jalapeño as either the main ingredients or the accompanying character.
Jalapeño Poppers, an Americanised version of a Classic Mexican dish, is made with hollowed out Jalapeño stuffed with a mixture of cheese and spices, sometimes also ground meat. Frontera does a great version of Jalapeño Poppers, with thick egg batter deep fried to a crisp, and oozy melted cheese inside. Frank had his first taste of these babies and fell in love in seconds. First bite. He had about 5 of them that night and would have had more but they wanted to close their kitchen at a reasonable hour etc.
On a side note, I also enjoyed the Taquitos de Pollo, crispy corn ‘tube’ much like the Italian’s cannelloni, stuffed with a creamy chicken filling, perfect with some Salsa Verdem a dip made with Tomatillos. The Chicken Croquettes were tasty in their own right, with pillowy soft centre.
Thank you for the invitation, Ramesh!
Frontera Sol of Mexico
18-G-2, Palm Square, Jaya One,
72A Jalan Universiti, PJ
Ever since that night Frank can’t stop talking about these Jalapeño Poppers. His relentless pleas “inspired” me to make them at home. The fact that he offered to help in the kitchen was a result too. But of course, I don’t like deep frying food. That’s why I went for this healthy baked version and take it a notch further using Low Fat cream cheese. Granted, the other cheeses are not low-fat but at least I’m trying, right?
“Skinny” Baked Jalapeño Poppers (serves 2):
5 Fresh Jalapeño Peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
1/3 block Philadelphia Low fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons Cheddar Cheese
2 tablespoons Mozerella Cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Black pepper to taste
1/4 cup All Purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 170C. Place the Panko breadcrumbs on a baking sheet, spreading them evenly. Bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Cut the jalapeño lengthways and deseed, get rid of the membranes too. Don’t have to completely clean it out if you can handle your heat though. It’s a matter of how adventureous you want to be.
In a small bowl, stir together the cheeses, paprika and cayenne pepper. Fill each jalapeño half with 2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture.
On a plate, combine the flour, pinch of salt and pepper. In another small bowl, lightly beat the egg. On another plate, place the Panko breadcrumbs.
Dip each Jalapeño half in the flour, shaking off the excess, in the egg wash, and then in the bread crumb mixture, shaking off the excess.
Bake the coated Jalapeños cut size up in 170C oven for 30 minutes or until Golden brown and the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.
The baked poppers taste slightly different to their deep-fried sibling, but nevertheless addictive. The crust was adequately crispy and the melted cheese was delightful. It wasn’t too spicy, just enough gentle heat to speed up the metabolism a little. Next time I’ll make more!