Shishito Peppers

A few years ago, I watched a cooking show featuring a number of chefs making pizza. One West Coast chef used chopped peppers for her signature pizza. Now, there’s nothing new about using peppers atop pizza. Many of us have done that for years. What set her apart was the peppers she used, shishito peppers. Right then and there I decided to find them.

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Raw Shishito Peppers

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Shishito peppers are a sweet pepper that originated in Japan, like the name suggests. Very often you may see only green shishito peppers for sale, but as you can tell from the photo above, ripe shishito peppers can run from green to red, and all colors in-between. Some claim that the redder the pepper, the sweeter. Nothing unusual here. So, why did I go searching for them?

Think of eating one of these peppers as a game of non-lethal Russian roulette. Although technically a sweet pepper, about one in ten can be as hot as a jalapeño  — and you have no way of knowing which is which. As a result, a platter of shishitos can be more than just a tasty appetizer or game time snack. Although certainly not as hot as a Habanero, the “right” shishito pepper can bring even the most unconscious of snackers back to reality.

Now, it is possible that the peppers you buy will all be sweet. In fact, one of the vendors at this year’s farmers market told me that she hadn’t come across a single hot pepper in this year’s crop. Another vendor, the one from whom I buy Lucy’ jalapeños and my fresh peas and beans, said that his crop maintained the ten to one ratio of sweet to hot peppers. Some believe it is the environment — sun, water, temperature — that affect the peppers’ heat. Perhaps this Spring’s heavy rains and cooler temps affected her crop.

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Roasted Shishito with Aioli

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I’m sure there must be a number of ways to prepare and serve shishitos but I’m only aware of a few. Ofttimes in Japanese restaurants, you’ll find these peppers served as appetizers after they’ve been dipped in tempura batter and fried. As you’ll soon see, I chose to roast mine and served them with a spicy garlic aioli. I also pickled some, though I think it was a mistake to preserve them. More about that later.

None of the preparations are all that involved nor do any require the full recipe treatment. I’ll just describe what I did and leave it at that.

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To Prepare the Garlic Aioli

Spicy Garlic AioliPlace one large egg, 2 grated garlic cloves, 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce, juice of 1/2 small lemon, 1/4 tsp dry mustard, 1/8 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process to fully combine the ingredients. Continue to process while very slowly adding 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Process until the sauce emulsifies and thickens. Cover and refrigerate a couple of hours before use.

This will create about 2/3 cup of spicy aioli. If you prefer, substitute canola oil for the olive oil and adjust the remaining ingredients to suit your own tastes.

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To Roast Shishito Peppers

Place a cast iron skillet under your oven’s broiler and pre-heat.

In a large mixing bowl, add the peppers, which have been washed with the stems trimmed leaving just a bit attached. Remember: piercing prevents peppers popping in your oven. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the peppers and season with salt and pepper. Mix to evenly coat the shishitos.

Roasted Shishito Peppers

Once the pan is ridiculously hot, add the peppers and place the pan back under the broiler. Remove after the peppers begin to blister — from 3 to 6 minutes, Season with coarse salt and serve immediately with the garlic aioli dipping sauce on the side. ShIshito peppers that are allowed to sit after roasting tend to soften, becoming less palatable.

Shishitos can be prepared on the stove top, on a baking sheet in the oven, or on a barbecue grill. I prefer to place them under the broiler in a screaming hot cast iron pan thereby eliminating any need to toss/turn the peppers while roasting.

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Pickling Shishito Peppers

Pickled Shishito PeppersNever having canned these peppers before, I thought I give it a try. After chopping them into rings, I placed them in sterile jars, and then filled the jars with Dave’s pickling liquid, along with some sliced onion, garlic, and green peppercorns. (Dave’s pickling method has become my “go-to” recipe for preserving pickled peppers. Quite simply, it’s the best.) The jars were then placed in a boiling water bath and processed. The result was a delicious batch of pickled peppers — but I doubt that I’ll do it again. Although tasty, these peppers are probably too delicate for boiling in the bath and their texture suffered. They were quite soft and that is not something I like. Next time, I’ll use them in a quick pickle and, although they cannot be stored nearly as long, the peppers should retain a bit of their crunch since they will not be boiled.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Borlotti/Cranberry Beans

With temperatures falling, it’s time to start cooking comfort foods. One of our favorites and one that I make for Zia every year is Pasta and Beans Soup, Pasta e Fagioli. Easy to make, this soup is the very definition of comfort. Best of all, if you’re as lucky as I was just last weekend, you can still find fresh Borlotti/cranberry beans at your local farmers market. The recipe for this traditional Italian dish can be found by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Pickle Preview

A Summer Pickle (Served with Grilled Pork Chops)

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14 thoughts on “Shishito Peppers

  1. Great post John!
    Over this way the most popular pizza is roasted or pickled friggitello and kabab.
    So, i live the idea of pickling those Japanese pickles if i can find them. looking forward to your next post.

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  3. Welcome back John and Happy New Year!
    Those peppers sound reminiscent of pimientos de pardón – small green peppers from the Basque Country, which are fried then sprinkled with salt. Every so often one of them is hot, though in general most are mild. I will have to find some Shishito Peppers for a taste comparison. Your spicy ailloli sounds delicious, I’ll have to make that!

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  4. We love our peppers here. I’ll look out for Shishito peppers, or the seeds as chillies/peppers grow quite well in our garden. Similar we grow Bishops Crown and a small sweet red pepper, I was given the seeds so I don’t know the name, they are mostly sweet but every now and again one will be hot… of course that’s the one my husband gets. I use them and chillies we grow to make a sweet tomato-chill sauce but our favourite but fiddly way to eat the peppers is like your roasting method but a small slit is made, most of the seeds removed and replaced with a fine & moist bread, egg, cheese and anything you want to add to it mix… my husband’s favourite addition is scraps of finely diced mortadella. Lastly, I agree, a quick pickle is best for peppers but I’m looking forward to trying out Dave’s pickling liquid.

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  5. Hey John…nice to see you again! Yes I know this beauties well! I love shishito’s!! they can be a little pricey but every so often can find them at a good price! How have you been?

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  6. Nice to see you back in my inbox! And another “Happy Birthday!” I have always done these on the grill but I love your cast iron version — definitely trying this soon! (It all depends on Trader Joe — they don’t always have them.)

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  7. A warm hug and a virtual bottle my favourite Australian red are crossing the Pond to say, ‘Happy Birthday’ and welcome back ! You have been missed Shishito peppers, originally Japanese I believe, are still virtual inknowns in Australia . . . quite a few interesting recipes have wandered down Under before. Signor Amici !!! Shall look and see . . .

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  8. It was so very nice to see you in my email again, John. And I love the aioli recipe. I have “roasted” these wonderful Shishitos in my air fryer, but I haven’t been very creative. Given that I think they’re delicious, I’m happy to have some direction to perhaps expand my “repertoire.” You’ve made me smile.

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  9. I’m so happy to see you again, John. And what a delightful aioli! The Shishito has made its way into many of our restaurants and although I haven’t been very creative, I’ve made a few home attempts. THey’re just so good! I think your aioli is reason I need to indulge once again. You’ve been missed.

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  10. Hey John! Great to see you back in the blogging game!

    Blistered shishito peppers are her favorite in our house, too. Wonderful flavor, and so easy to make. We’ll have to try next time with your aïoli, looks fantastic.

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