Operation Clean Out The Fridge: Hot Pepper Leaves

It's spring cleaning time, and it's the fridge's turn for a makeover. Its shelves are packed with jars of curries and sauces I've picked up here and there, and the freezer is chock-full of things I should've probably used ages ago. And considering farmers markets and gardens are gearing up for a bountiful season, I've decided that it's past time to play with the food I already have.

Today's object: the package of frozen hot pepper leaves I picked up in Chinatown a while back (along with some Wasabi greens, which also need to be used). I was hoping they'd have a nice bite, but after defrosting and having a sample taste, I discovered they were more reminiscent of plain old green peppers.

Easiest way to use them? Stir fry. I sautéed some beef (also from the freezer) in my Sichuan Pepper Pickle and a little Sichuan peppercorn oil. I tossed in some rice vermicelli noodles (which I'd quickly boiled in water), the hot pepper leaves, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and a teaspoon of Vietnamese chili garlic sauce.

Interestingly, once the hot pepper leaves were combined with the strong flavors of the Sichuan Pepper Pickle and the beef, they tasted similar to the tea leaves in a Burmese tea leaf salad. Kind of weird, but enjoyable nonetheless. Time to see what the wasabi greens have in store...

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