How To Best Prep And Cook Shishito Peppers

Shishito peppers, a popular Japanese variety, are well-loved for their impactful flavor, tasty skin, and sweet, mild flavor. While most shishitos are less spicy than jalapeños, note that approximately one in every ten shishitos will pack a surprising punch of heat, so eat with caution. Preparing these delectable peppers for cooking is quite simple. First, rinse them under water to remove residual dirt. Then, trim the stems. Unlike other pepper varieties, shishitos are tender and soft, usually eaten whole (sometimes even the stems are eaten!), so removing the seeds or ribs is unnecessary.

Whether sautéed, roasted, deep-fried, or blistered, shishito peppers are full of flavor and can be the star appetizer of any meal. Aim to achieve a delightful blend of tenderness and blistered charring when cooking your shishitos. The best method to accomplish this is by heating them in a frying pan or cast iron skillet. A cast iron pan is ideal as it uniformly distributes heat, ensuring all the peppers are cooked evenly. After lightly coating them with oil, sauté the peppers undisturbed until they're blistered and spotted with black char marks on both sides. (You might even hear popping sounds of the skin bursting.) This usually takes a few minutes for each side. 

Shishito peppers are a flavor roulette in every bite

This cooking process enhances their flavor and gives them a pleasantly smoky aroma. Once well-blistered, usually within about 10 minutes, remove the peppers from the skillet. At this point, you can choose to season them or not. We recommend going simple: A sprinkle of high-quality sea salt flakes and a squeeze of fresh lemon or yuzu juice can add a refreshing and savory touch to the smoky peppers. A dash of soy sauce and a sprinkling of MSG also work wonders. You can also consider pairing these beautiful peppers with a creamy dip to balance their smoky flavor, like a classic garlic aioli

Shishito peppers, with their roulette of flavors, have become a popular staple in Japanese izakayas (pubs) and American eateries nationwide. Their unique flavor profile, easy preparation, and versatility in cooking have led them to be the star of many appetizer menus and charcuterie boards. They serve as an excellent conversation starter, too, with their element of surprise. Who will be the "lucky" one tonight, ending up with a burning mouth full of spice?