I like a lot of flavor and a lot of spice in my food. I typically believe the hotter, the better. When it comes to marinades, it’s hard to find one that has big flavor without having a lot of sugar, salt and oil. I kept thinking that there has to be a better way to make a marinade out of great fresh ingredients, that has spice but not all the sugar and fat. So I started to play around with peppers. To me peppers are the perfect vegetable. They are versatile: great in salads, as a side dish vegetable (roasted, or sautéed), an accompaniment to a protein and even as a main dish (stuffed). And as flavoring agents: jalapeños which I love for spice and dried peppers make for wonderful sauces, braises and stews. And they are healthy: a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, Magnesium and Copper, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6 and more.
I used a bunch of fresh peppers (jalapeños, pasillas, anaheims) and puree them in the food processor with other spices like cilantro, garlic, scallions, and a little olive oil and lime juice to provide the acidity needed to break down the proteins…which is basically how a marinade softens and flavors meats. I added very little oil and no sugar. The result was so flavorful. I use it as both a marinade and a salsa in the same dish. If you don’t like food as spicy as I do, you can temper the recipe by using fewer jalapeños.
I have used this beautifully green marinade on chicken breasts, fish, and flank steak. My favorite is using it on flank steak. I usually serve it with corn tortillas. This recipe calls for 2 lbs of flank steak. It can serve 4-8 people depending on serving sizes. I portion out 4-5 oz for my serving so I do not overdo it with the calories. I use half the marinade to tenderize and flavor the meat before grilling. I serve the steak with grilled onions and red peppers and serve with corn tortillas and use the remaining marinade to top off the tortillas. If you want to make a big batch, this freezes well.
Pepper Lime Cilantro Marinade: (makes 3.5 cups of marinade)
4 poblano peppers – stem removed, cut into big chunks, seeds regarded
4 jalapeño peppers — stems removed, sliced. I use the whole pepper with seeds for extra spice. If you want it more mild, discard seeds and white pith and perhaps only use 1-3 peppers, depending on your palate
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Juice of two limes
Half a bunch of cilantro
I teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
1 clove of garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
Mix all ingredients in a food processor. Process for 2-3 minutes. Marinade will be finely chopped. It will not be a puree.