For the cow horn chilies:
8 firm green cow horn chilies
200g strained yogurt, preferably homemade
100g grated cheese, such as Emmental or Gruyere
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 rashers bacon
For the schnitzel:
4 thick slices of pork loin (2.5cm is a good place to start)
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp double cream
1 cup breadcrumbs*
salt and pepper to season
wedges of lemon to garnish
1. Attack the pork loin slices with a meat hammer and beat them into submission. They should be about 5mm thick without any tears. Set aside.
2. Rub the cow horn chilies with a little oil and place them on a baking sheet. Grill at 230c for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skins are blackened and blistered. Remove and cover tightly with foil to let then steam in their own heat for another 20-30 minutes.
3. Fry the bacon in a little oil until crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and then break into pieces.
4. Mix the yogurt and cheese. (The yogurt should have the texture of cream cheese. If you feel it is too watery, strain it through cheesecloth of muslin to remove excess liquid.) Add the other seasonings and mix well.
5. When the chilies have cooled, their skins will have loosened. You can choose to peel the skins, or not, depending on how you feel. Removing the skins can be a bit fiddly, but provides a better texture to the final dish. The burnt skins can be quite attractive, providing some darker hues to the dish and a hint of bitterness to the taste, which is decidedly appealing.
6. Slit the chilies open and remove the seeds and some of the white pith. Fill with the yogurt mixture and put on a baking sheet and bake in a oven pre-heated to 190c for about 10 minutes.
7. While the chilies are baking, cover a plate with flour and another with the breadcrumbs. Make a mixture of the eggs and cream, beating lightly.
8. Take the well-beaten pork pieces and season generously with salt and pepper. Coat lightly in flour then dip into the egg mixture. Dredge in the breadcrumbs, coating thoroughly, but avoid pressing the meat too hard.
9. Heat a skillet with about 1cm of oil covering its base. Fry the schnitzels until golden brown, about 2 minutes a side. Place on kitchen paper to drain. Serve hot with the stuffed peppers and a wedge of lemon. Goes particularly well with a simple leaf salad.
* Breadcrumbs are easily made at home if you have an oven. Collect the tail ends of toast and freeze until you have a fair quantity. Place in an oven at about 120c and allow to dry out thoroughly then pop in a blender and whizz. These crumbs can be kept in the freezer for a couple of weeks.
Ian Bartholomew runs Ian’s Table, a small guesthouse in Hualien. He has lived in Taiwan for many years writing about the food scene and has decided that until you look at farming, you know nothing about the food you eat. He can be contacted at Hualien202@gmail.com.