Charred Shishito Peppers
One of the cuisines that Betsy and I frequently choose when we rarely go out to eat is sushi. It’s just really hard to reproduce good sushi at home and I also love watching sushi chefs work. It’s truly an art.
I like to get some edamame as an appetizer when we go out for sushi but recently I’ve been obsessed with these little charred peppers: shishito peppers. They are spicy, but not super spicy, and usually served with some fun toppings and spicy/savory dipping sauces. I never thought to try to make them at home until I saw a big bin of the peppers at Whole Foods recently. They were cheap and so I grabbed a few handfuls and figured I would give it a shot at home.
While I probably won’t get into sushi making at home anytime soon, you can bet I’ll make these any time I need an appetizer for an Asian-style meal because they are insanely addictive and take just a few minutes.
Charred Shishito Peppers
Yield: Serves 4.
18-20 shishito peppers
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Cast Iron Skillet
1) Rinse peppers well, dry them, and toss them with both kinds of oil.
2) Get a large cast iron skillet hot over medium high heat and add in all the peppers. Be sure to turn on the fan over your stove as it might get a little smokey.
3) Let peppers char for 2-3 minutes and stir once so they are charred on all sides.
4) When peppers are lightly charred all around, remove from pan and add to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 2-3 minutes.
5) Drizzle peppers with soy sauce and plate. Cover with a liberal topping of sesame seeds and bonito flakes and serve with sriracha chili sauce.
These peppers aren’t really expensive, but they can be a bit tricky to find. Like I said, I happen to find some at Whole Foods, but you can probably call around to Asian grocers as well and have good luck finding some fresh ones.
These peppers are mild although I found that some were fairly spicy which is fun. They also have a lot of crags so they char in random spots.
When you are ready to cook the peppers, rinse them and dry them well and then toss them with some vegetable oil and sesame oil. You want a very light coat of oil on the peppers.
Then just add the peppers to a hot cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. These will need to char for about five minutes and you should stir them a few times as they cook to make sure they are cooking evenly.
One note about this is that the peppers will probably smoke a bit as they char so make sure to turn on your vent over the stove or open a few windows.
You can also easily do these on the grill if you happen to be grilling.
When they are done, they’ll look something like this!
Once the peppers are charred, add the peppers back to the bowl and drizzle with some soy sauce. Then cover them with plastic wrap and let them steam for just a few minutes. This will soften them up a bit further. Don’t let them steam for more than a minute or two though or they will get mushy.
Honestly, you don’t need a ton of toppings for these guys because they have really nice flavor on their own, but I think these three toppings are very fun.
Sesame seeds and sriracha are pretty common but you may not have used bonito flakes before. Basically they are a smoked and dried fish (mackerel) that is then sliced paper thin. The flakes literally dissolve in your mouth and have a savory and smokey flavor. You can find bags of them in the Asian section of most grocery stores these days.
A healthy dose of these on the peppers takes them to the next level for sure.
Once the peppers are tossed with soy sauce and steamed, I just pile them high and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds and bonito flakes.
Serve with the chili sauce on the side.
Honestly, I ate almost all of these by myself, but 4-5 peppers is probably a good appetizer serving so a big plate like this will easily feed four people.
You might be a little scared to bite into a whole pepper, but trust me that they are mild and wonderful with just enough spice to get you sweating.