Shishito Peppers :: From the Farmer's Market to your Table
I had my first blistered shishito pepper about five years ago. I was in the UK and they were presented to me alongside numerous other tapas. I had never had one before and passed for fear they might be too hot. I like heat and I seem to be adding jalapeños to lots of things these days, but in miniscule amounts. I mean, I would never dare to simply bite into one whole. I was assured that for the most part these were mild peppers, though every so often a rare spicy one emerges from the bunch, which seems to make eating these little green treats even more fun.
These little Japanese peppers, part of the Capsaicin family, are mild with a slight peppery flavor, not unlike a traditional green pepper although its long, slender shape isn't dissimilar to the jalapeño. They traditionally grow in the summer months and you'll find them in abundance at your local farmer's market.
Craving something salty and wanting to be relatively healthy (trying to keep away from the potato chips) I decided that I would try my hand at blistering them. I found a recipe from the New York Times and saw that all I needed in addition to the peppers was olive oil and salt. Since I didn't have three pounds I just decided to wing it on my own. After all, blistering a few peppers wasn't exactly brain science. I had purchased a quart but since I had given about half of them to a friend I wasn't sure just how many I had, my guess was roughly a pint.
Over a large cast iron skillet (my latest favorite cooking tool) I added about a tablespoon of olive oil and brought the temperature up. As the oil started to smoke slightly I added the peppers to the pan and turned the heat down slightly. They all fit in perfectly. I let them blister for about 10 minutes or so, turning them a couple of times so that all the sides would get a nice deep, char. When they were done I placed them onto a plate and sprinkled them generously with salt. I used a Sea Salt but think I would have prefered a Himalayan or a Maldon. Even a lemon salt for a zesty kick.
I popped on into my mouth and took a bite. It was divine - mild and peppery with a nice smokiness from the char. I took another bite, pulled off the stem, placed it on my plate and went in for another. I repeated these steps until there was not one pepper left!
1 pint - 1 quart of shishito peppers
1-2 Tbs of good olive oil
Coarse salt, as needed
A large (12 inch) skillet
Heat the oil in the pan until it gets hot - it might start to smoke.
Add the peppers into the pan, aligning them so that they all fit. (If they don't remove half)
Keep them in the pan for about 10 minutes or so until they start to char and blister, turning a couple of times.
Remove from pan when ready.
Arrange on a plate.
Add salt, coarse salt is best.