A quick and easy Sichuan dish, tiger skin pepper combines a delightful texture with bold flavors like smokiness, spiciness, and a hint of sweet and sour.
What is Tiger Skin Pepper
The names of some traditional Chinese dishes can be a bit confusing. For instance, Lion’s Head Meatballs and Ants Climbing a Tree have actually nothing to do with lions or ants. Today’s recipe, Tiger Skin Pepper (Hǔ Pí Qīng Jiāo/虎皮青椒), is another example.
Originating from Sichuan cuisine, this popular dish also has nothing to do with tigers. Instead, it features green peppers that are charred and then stir-fried with a savory, tangy sauce. Its name comes from the fact that the brown blisters on the surface of the peppers resemble the patterns of a tiger’s skin.
I love the flavor combination of this dish: smoky, mildly spicy, aromatic, and savory, with a subtle sweet and sour taste. Also, it’s very simple to make (a short ingredient list and a few cooking steps)!
Ingredients & Substitutes
- Chili pepper. Choose medium to large-sized green chili peppers. Red ones are good too although they don’t create the “authentic” look. They can be either mildly hot or extra spicy. It’s up to your personal preference.
- Fermented black beans. Known as Dòu Chǐ/豆豉, they are black soybeans fermented with salt and spices. You can find this special ingredient in many classic Chinese dishes, such as Mapo Tofu, Twice-Cooked Pork Belly, Egg & Chili Stir-fry, etc. They add an aromatic, earthy, and savory taste to today’s dish.
- Garlic. The aroma of fresh garlic complements any vegetable in Chinese stir-fries.
- Seasonings. You only need three simple condiments to season this dish: light soy sauce for the savory, umami taste, black rice vinegar for its tanginess and aroma, and a pinch of sugar to balance the flavor.
- Neutral cooking oil. It can be sunflower, canola, vegetable, soybean, corn, or rapeseed oil.
Step 1: Prepare the ingredients
Wash the chili peppers and wipe dry their surface. Remove the stems and seeds. Unless they’re quite small, cut the peppers in halves crosswise.
In a small bowl, mix light soy sauce, black rice vinegar, and sugar. Set aside.
Step 2: Char the peppers
Place a dry, empty wok/skillet over medium heat. Add the chili peppers. Press them with the back of a spatula to accelerate the charring process. Once they wilt and brown blisters appear on the surface, transfer them out to a plate.
🛎 Notes: Alternatively, you can use an air fryer for this step. Preheat the machine to 390°F/200°C for 3 minutes then air fry the peppers for around 7 minutes (the cooking time may vary so it’s best to open the drawer to check the doneness)
Step 3: Stir-fry the dish
Pour oil into the same wok. Sizzle minced garlic and fermented black beans over medium heat until the garlic browns on the edge.
Put the charred pepper back into the wok. Pour in the sauce mixture. Mix and toss for 20 seconds or so. Dish out and serve.
What to serve with
Tiger skin pepper tastes wonderful over a bowl of steamed rice. However, I find it also nice to enjoy it at room temperature as a savory snack to nibble on.
To include it in a classic Chinese-style multi-dish meal, I would prepare a cooking-free dish like Smashed Cucumber, two protein-based dishes, such as Pearl Meatballs, Chinese BBQ Ribs, etc, and a simple soup like Egg Drop Soup.
The above is just an example. Don’t forget to check out the Recipe Index to discover more dishes to pair with today’s dish.
More vegetable dishes to try
Looking for more delicious ways to cook vegetables? Check out these popular recipes:
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Tiger Skin Pepper (虎皮青椒)
- Trim off the stems of the chili peppers. Deseed then cut them in halves crosswise (keep them whole if they’re fairly small). Mix light soy sauce, black rice vinegar, and sugar in a small bowl.
- Put the chili peppers into an empty wok/skillet (without oil). Over medium heat, char the peppers until they wilt and brown blisters appear on the surface (Press them with the back of a spatula to accelerate the process).
- Transfer out the charred peppers. Pour cooking oil into the wok and add minced garlic and fermented black beans.
- Sizzle until the garlic turns lightly golden. Return the pepper back to the wok and pour in the sauce mixture. Give everything a quick stir to evenly distribute the seasoning. Dish out and serve warm with steamed rice and 1 or 2 protein-based dishes.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.