Shishito Peppers - A Japanese Treat
Sunday, June 14, 2009
My farmer's market has an Asian veggie stand. You can find all sorts of greens, bitter melons, eggplants, herbs, lemon grass, daikon radish, and all different varieties of bok choy. Once, I picked up a pack of fresh red chilis and asked the farmer if they were really hot.
He looked at me and asked, "Chinese?"
I said, "No. Japanese."
He shook his head "No"...[you aren't allowed to buy these]
I totally understood. The Japanese can't take the heat!
Japanese cuisine isn't spicy like Korean, Szechuan Chinese and Thai food. Of course, we have wasabi horseradish that can clear out your sinuses, but Japanese food doesn't use much chili powder. There is a great seasoned chili pepper called Togarashi that is perfect on top of a hot bowl of udon noodles though. It's serious yum.
It always cracks me up that when I go to Curry House for Japanese curry I can order it "HOT" because it's for the weak Japanese palate!
Japanese Shishito Pepper. According to Kitazawa seed company, these are "mini, sweet-hot, thin-walled green pepper is popular in Japan." They grow in the summer and are perfect appetizers. You might be able to find them at a sushi bar or izakaya place (izakaya is Japanese tapas/appetizers/bar food).
I think they are from the bell pepper family, but they don't taste like the green bell pepper (which I hate). However, sometimes you'll hit a hot one! They are really thin skinned and I can casually polish off a whole bunch. Luckily, my father grows a couple rows of them and my mom spends her summer delivering brown bags filled with shishito to relatives and church friends.
These peppers can also be grilled, toaster-oven broiled, pan or deep fried. In addition to this simple appetizer dish, shishito peppers are fantastic tempura items. Gourmet has a recipe for Flash-Fried Shishito Peppers with Sea Salt but this is deep fried.
I don't have a recipe...but here's what I do:
Find shishito peppers in a Japanese store, farmer's market, or grow them yourself.
Wash. Don't need to seed or cut.
Heat a pan really hot.
Add olive oil.
Turn on your fan or your smoke alarm might go off.
Add peppers. Stand back because splatter action will occur.
Fry up until charred a bit.
Add sea salt.
Don't eat the stems/ends.
Pick up some Shishito Japanese Peppers at the Japanese market or order it instead of edamame this summer at your sushi place!