This past week, I I joined Stacie and her husband at a wonderful ramen restaurant, where everyone at the table was flipping over a fantastic shishito pepper appetizer. (And fortunately, our children didn’t look at the word on the menu long enough to start uh…well, you know. Dissecting the name.) Only days before, I realized I had a fabulous gnocchi dish with braised shishito peppers, and so our conversation turned to how this Japanese bred pepper is now popping up everywhere.
Okay, so technically shishitos are a chile but that distinction is lost on most of us. What is important to kno though, if you’re not familiar with them, is that shishitos are generally mild — but only 9 out of about every 10 of them. The other is spicy. Think, Shishito Roulette. Which makes them kind of fun! They’re wonderfully flavorful, and can serve them roasted, braised, sauteed, fried, grilled, pickled…you name it. Which also makes them fun.
If you’re starting to see shishitos in your local grocer or greenmarket and want to give these yummy peppers a try, I’ve put together some amazing recipes from around the web that look absolutely terrific, no matter what your cooking skill. And I’d bet lots of kids would like them too. At least if the odds of getting a mild one are ever in their favor.
Roasted Shishito Peppers: The Kitchn
This is a great post to get you started in the world of shishito peppers. It discusses how to choose them, where to find them, and the key to cooking them perfectly, which in this case, requires no more than the peppers, oil and a good sea salt. There’s also a nice suggestion for an optional yogurt dipping sauce that turns the whole thing into a great appetizer or light, healthy snack.
Easy Sesame Shishito Peppers: Gimme Some Oven
As with other peppers, sauteeing is an easy way to go, whether as a side dish or as Ali suggests, a healthy snack all on its own. This super easy recipe includes some great tips worth checking out, including how to blacken them. You can even substitute gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce, if you’re going GF.
Shishito Peppers in Soy Ginger Sauce: Whitney Bond
Soy + ginger? What else would you think for cooking up a Japanese chile? In this case, you also need a little honey, some sesame oil, and optional panko to sprinkle over top and you’ve got the makings of a copycat appetizer that you might see in restaurants like Nobu. Not that anything I could make is as good as what the chefs at Nobu do. But you know. I can try.
Grilled Shishito Peppers with Sriracha Almonds: Two Peas and Their Pod
A recipe that looks this good with a prep time of five minutes? I’m all in. Although to be honest, she had me when she added Blue Diamond’s Sriracha Almonds to the pan. This is the kind of sponsored post I totally love because I had no idea there even were Sriracha Almonds, and now I’m going to buy them and put them in pretty much everything, so thanks for that, Maria.
Shishito Peppers Tempura: LA Times
If I want to get my kids to try anything new, I’ll be honest, frying it in some way with a dipping sauce on the side generally helps. Tempura is a healthier method than “chicken nuggeting” (our own term) so I was psyched to find this recipe from the LA Times. Read the whole article, and not just the recipe, for some savvy tips; I particularly like Sonoko Sakai’s suggestions about which oils are best for frying tempura. Just know you’ll need to have cake flour and cornstarch on hand for a light, crisp tempura shell. And the optional dipping sauce? Well that looks easy and not optional at all.
(Note: You need to register to access the recipe which is totally worth it; I love the LA Times food section.)
Oh, Saveur. I can always count on you for a recipe I want to pass to my more culinarily gifted friends (hi, Stacie!) and say, can you make this next time I come over? I had never even heard of Picada Sauce, which is a Spanish version of pesto made with almonds, parsley and, of all things, just a hint of a good dark chocolate. It’s not that complicated, but as one commenter notes, it does require lots of techniques — toasting almonds, broiling cauliflower, poaching garlic, and frying peppers. Hi, Stacie!
I could eat chilled soups year round, and often do. Here, gluten-free home cook Sandi Gaertner makes a recipe from Capay Organic that looks very easy; it’s mostly a matter of frying the peppers in oil and garlic, then pureeing in a blender and chilling. I’m not sure what a shishito pepper soup will taste like but something tells me it’s a good bet.
Pickled Shishito Peppers: Black Girl Chef’s Whites
Cheryl D Lee grew up with homemade pickled peppers from her mom and grandmother as a year-round staple in her family fridge, so I trust her implicitly with her tips for pickling shishitos. They look like a cinch to make, and then you’ll have a supply ready to punch up all kinds of entrees. The only downside: You’ll have to let the peppers sit for a week to let the flavors come together. Anticipation.
Watermelon Carpaccio with Blistered Shishito, Mitsuba and Lime: Taste With the Eyes
If you want to eke just a bit more time out of watermelon season, this recipe from Taste with the Eyes looks absolutely outrageous. Also, it looks like it might require a culinary school degree and more free time than I generally have. You may be different, in which case I bow down to you. It calls for a mandolin for thinly slicing the melon, some of the Japanese herb mitsuba, Korean red chili powder, and radish sprouts, plus some roasted pistachios and a little feta. Yum. Then again, not exactly stuff you’ll find in your local Stop n Shop. Still, whoa — you want to impress the inlaws or a new date? I’d say this shishito pepper recipe is the one to do it.