Shishito peppers are a popular choice for a pre-sushi appetizer, bringing a bold green flavor and smoky taste to the table. Eaten whole except for the stem, shishito peppers are usually tender and mild – unless you get the one in ten that is spicier and hotter than most (don’t worry, it’s good luck!).
Small and slender, glossy and bright green – shishito peppers have a thin skin that makes them perfect for charring. They’ll cook quickly and develop a deep flavor in minutes.
Where to Buy Shishito Peppers & How to Eat Them
You can find shishito peppers at local farmers markets, Asian supermarkets or upscale grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Central Market. Eat these pan-charred peppers as a snack, appetizer, or side. You can also toss them into a main dish of stir-fried steak, or add them to an Asian salad – but rest assured, they won’t last long.
Charred Shishito Peppers Recipe
½ pound fresh shishito peppers
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
(For the dipping sauce)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (or vegan mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
- Heat a large, cast iron skillet or pan over high heat for at least five minutes. It should be very hot! This recipe also works well on an outdoor grill – just set your skillet on the hottest part.
- While the pan is heating, toss your peppers with olive oil until they are coated and glossy.
- Put your shishito peppers in the cast iron pan, arranging them in a single layer so that every pepper is touching the surface. Now leave them alone for three minutes – you need continuous, direct contact with the hot surface for your peppers to char.
- While the peppers are charring, mix up your dipping sauce by whisking together the mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, and Sriracha chili sauce.
- Using a pair of tongs, turn each pepper over to the other side and cook for three more minutes. Again – no touching. Your peppers will look blistered and blackened.
- Sprinkle your peppers with salt, and serve them with the Sriracha sauce. Enjoy!
Carbon Steel, Our Secret Weapon for Charring
The trick to achieving a perfect sear on your shishitos is by using a carbon steel skillet. If you're thinking that your nonstick pans are fine, stop! Nonstick coatings are not meant for high heat cooking (it'll ruin the pan). Meanwhile stainless steel pans while great for many things are a pain to clean up if you don't get the heat just right. Carbon steel can handle very high heat and is the perfect tool to singe and blister the outside layer of your peppers.
Carbon steel is a dense combination of iron and carbon, and it doesn’t just get hot – it stays hot, even when you add a pile of cold ingredients. It provides the continuous, high heat for scorching and searing. As an added bonus: it has seasoning properties just like cast iron and is much lighter, allowing you to easily toss and flip your food for more even cooking.
If you weren’t lucky enough to inherit your grandmother’s blue carbon steel skillet as an heirloom, investing in one of these long-lasting kitchen essentials is a great idea for any semi-serious chef.
Consider Blue Carbon Steel by Made In
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Shishito peppers image via Shutterstock