At North Melbourne cafe and wine bar Lumen People, the menu is simple but stacked with gems that rely on seasonal, well-chosen produce to pack a punch.

“Partnering with small-scale and quality growers is always in our food DNA, so we can focus on each season intentionally and let the fresh produce do the talking,” says chef and co-founder Marichi Clarke.

This unexpected dish of shishito peppers and pimenton – aka paprika – oil is enlivened with spiced almonds and the subtle tang of creamy crème fraîche.

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“While it may seem an odd choice to pair the subtle herbaceousness of shishito peppers with the upfront fragrance and depth of pimenton oil, we think it works quite the treat,” says Clarke. “The spiced-almond crunch, crème fraîche to round it all out, and fresh lemon zest for vibrancy makes for the perfect wine bar snack that’s good with a glass of something white and direct or equally as pleasing next to something pink and textural. Fresh baguette, torn into dippable morsels, accompanies this savoury number quite nicely.”

The quantities below serve one to two, but the recipe is easily scaled up. You will also need a cooking thermometer.

Shishito peppers and pimenton

Serves 1–2
Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus cooling time
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients
Extra virgin olive oil, for cooking
5–7 shishito peppers
1 large tbsp crème fraîche
Lemon zest, to garnish

Pimenton oil
10g smoked paprika
2g whole coriander seeds
100g vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 large sprigs lemon thyme (or thyme)

Spiced almond crunch
10g whole fennel seeds
10g whole coriander seeds
10g whole cumin seeds
50g sesame seeds
100g almonds
5g flaked sea salt (Lumen uses Maldon)

Method
To make the pimenton oil, toast the smoked paprika and coriander seeds in a heavy-based pot on the stove over medium-low heat until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Add in the vegetable oil, garlic and lemon thyme. Heat at 60°C for 20 minutes, stirring now and then so the paprika doesn’t sit on the bottom of the pot.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, strain through a coffee filter or paper filter on top of a sieve.

For the almond crunch, preheat oven to 200°C. Toast all the whole seeds in a frying pan until fragrant, then allow to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, roast almonds to very well done with a soft, earthy and smoky flavour. Rest until cooled.

Crush all almond-crunch ingredients, except the salt, to a medium-fine consistency in a pestle and mortar. Stir in the flaked salt.

To prepare the peppers, heat a heavy-based pot or pan over high heat. Once the pan or pot is nice and hot, drizzle in a splash of extra virgin olive oil (Lumen uses Mount Zero, but a good-quality light, fruity and fragrant olive oil will also do the trick), throw in your shishito peppers, put the lid on, and start a 1 minute timer.

After 1 minute give the pot or pan a good shake to move the peppers around. You want them on a high heat to get a nice char. Start another 1 minute timer.

Once the timer goes off, turn off the heat, and remove the charred pepper onto a paper towel to drain any excess olive oil.

Spread the crème fraîche around in a circle on a medium-sized plate. Spoon 3–4 tbsp of pimenton oil around the edge of the crème fraîche. Layer in the charred shishito peppers from the middle with stems facing outwards, then sprinkle 1 tsp of spiced almond crunch over the top of the peppers. Sprinkle lemon zest over the top to garnish.

@lumenpeople