Serves 4 as an appetizer
- 1/2 small red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar OR 4 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 pound (6 medium-large) fresh poblano chiles
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
- 1 large white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon
- About 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 4 sprigs for garnish (optional)
- 3/4 cup coarsely shredded smoked fish (like whitefish or trout) OR 3/4 cup coarsely shredded smoked chicken
- 16 small lettuce leaves, for lining the plates
- 1/4 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco or pressed, salted farmer’s cheese
- Separate the red onion into rings, then mix with the vinegar in a small bowl and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes (this takes away some of their bite).
- Roast the chiles directly over a gas flame or 4 inches below a very hot broiler, turning until blackened on all sides, about 5 minutes for open flame, about 10 minutes for broiler. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand 5 minutes. Peel, pull out the stem and seed pod, then rinse briefly to remove bits of skin and seeds. Slice into 1/4-inch strips.
- In a large (10-to 12-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium to medium-high, add the white onion, and cook, stirring regularly, until nicely browned but still a little crunchy, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano, toss a minute longer, then stir in the chiles and just heat through. Taste and season with salt. Cool, if you’re not planning to serve the salad warm.
- Add the red onion mixture to the rajas. Stir in the optional chopped thyme and fish or chicken. Taste and season with a little more salt if needed.
- Line 4 plates with the lettuce leaves. Spoon 1/4 of your aromatic, spicy concoction into the center of each plate. Sprinkle with cheese and garnish with sprigs of thyme.