The first time I ever had charred shishito peppers was at Umi Sake House in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, and it blew my mind. A friend had ordered it to share, and when it arrived, I definitely looked at the small pile of peppers with a great deal of skepticism.
Peppers? As an appetizer? Wouldn’t that, you know, hurt to eat? But you guys, it… well, it does hurt. Sometimes. I wouldn’t lie to you. This is a place of honesty and trust, after all. But mostly, the peppers are an insanely addictive combination of sweet and bitter, with just a small dose of heat. Except for sometimes, like I mentioned, when it is a large dose of heat. But they always seem to be the minority, and in any case I think it just heightens the experience when you have no idea if you’ll come across a “surprise pepper” that lays on the napalm inside your mouth. Does that not sound great to you?
No? Just me?
These make a great little snack, and are so quick and easy to prepare that I’d make it daily if I had an endless supply of shishito peppers handy. But alas. Here’s the total of the work involved:
- Heat up a skillet.
- Toss the peppers on it.
I’ll even put that into the official recipe section.
I found the peppers at a Japanese market, so you may want to try your luck at your local Asian grocer, though I feel like it’s only a matter of time before places like Whole Foods starts to stock them. That’s not a dig, either. I’m all about making “exotic” ingredients more accessible! That means less traveling for me to get gai lan and preserved eggs, ya know???
Pan-Blistered Shishito Peppers
Yield: However much you want
- Shishito peppers — however much will fit in your pan
- Olive oil
Pour enough olive oil to evenly coat the surface of a large skillet. A nice hefty glug should do the trick. Put this over medium-high heat. I used my cast iron skillet, but I’m sure any pan will do.
When the oil is hot to the point of beginning to smoke and shimmer, throw the peppers in. It helps if you let them dry after washing them first so that you don’t cause an eruption of oil spatters. But make no mistake, some spattering will still occur, so just stand at a distance and drape a dish towel over your forearm.
Let the peppers fry for about a minute before prodding them with a spatula. You want them to char and blister, so don’t worry about fussing over them too much as they cook. Just stir things around once in a while so more sides of the peppers can come into direct contact with the heat.
After about 3-5 minutes, your peppers should have brown scorch marks all over. They’re done! Move them to a bowl lined with paper towels and salt generously. Toss the peppers to evenly distribute the salt.
Move to a plate (or not!) and eat them while they’re warm.