The first time, I tried shishito peppers was right after we moved to California. I had heard a lot about them, everyone who ate them said they were delicious especially when blistered. And unlike most charred and blistered peppers, you eat them with the skin on. But NO ONE told me that often you'll encounter a pepper or two that might be hot, VERY HOT. So you can imagine my surprise when I ate them at a restaurant. Most of them tasted a little bit like blistered green bell peppers mingled with the taste of flecks of salt and pepper but then I bit into something VERY, VERY and unexpectedly HOT! The exact details of what happened then have since then escaped my mind but I do remember drinking a few glasses of water. So here's my PSA with these pepper; usually at random, one or two will be hot. It's better to know this going in.
Shishito peppers though Japanese are related to the Padrón peppers of Spain. I find them to taste best when seared, charred and burnt because the skin transforms in taste and adds complexity to the the flavor of the peppers. Sometimes, I will sear a few peppers and use them to garnish fried rice, add them to salads or even over cold soba noodles.
- Use a really hot stainless steel or cast iron skillet with a handle that will help you toss and rotate the peppers as they sear. I prefer to use stainless steel over cast-iron as it's lighter weight makes it easier to move and toss the peppers in the pan while they cook.
- You want the peppers to sear only in random spots but not all over.
- Add whatever dry spices or seasonings you want to use in the last 1 to 1 1/2 minutes of cooking, so the spices don't burn.
blistered shishito peppers with shichimi togarashi
makes 2 to 4 servings as a side
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 lb shishito peppers
1 1/2 teaspoons shichimi togarashi
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt or Maldon salt flakes
Place a large stainless steel or cast-iron skillet on high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot and just starts to smoke, add the peppers and cook over high heat. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, tossing the peppers and rotating the contents of the pan until the peppers start to turn tender and blister in spots. One minutes before they're done cooking, add the togarashi seasoning, the sesame oil, vinegar and salt to the peppers and toss to coat. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Serve immediately.