Try something different — shishito peppers
Published 12:48 pm Saturday, June 25, 2016
At Cochon (one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans) we were offered a side dish of shishito peppers served in a cream sauce with toasted panko bread crumbs. Never had I heard of shishito peppers, but they were so good. I read that I could find them in Asian markets, the peppers being Japanese. I decided to go to the Vietnamese market again (where I had visited before) but found no peppers. Whole Foods didn’t have them either. The Crescent City Market in New Orleans was open on Magazine Street that Saturday morning and there I found my peppers. The lady with the peppers had been growing them for several years and gave us her source as Johnny’s Seeds. Of course, my husband has ordered some. We’ll see if we can get them to produce this summer. I think it is not too late.
Shishito peppers have popped up on numerous restaurant menus in the past several years. They are slender, finger-length green pods with thin skins and a sweet flavor. They are not hot! Maybe one In 10 will be hot but nothing to make you inhale. Theories vary on why some are spicier, but growing conditions that are hotter and drier are considered likely factors.
As the name would suggest they are a Japanese pepper and a Japanese varietal is now gown in the United States and can be found in midsummer through fall. Best of all they are a cinch to prepare.
The simplest way: Char-grill or pan-sear them with a touch of oil until they sport a few blisters, then sprinkle with a bit of kosher or sea salt. Grab the stem, pop the pepper in your mouth, bite, and smile.
Shishitos are great to share at summer parties. Typically offered as a starter, they can be used in side dishes (like at Cochon) or salads.
One cooking tip: Puncture each pepper with a small hole before cooking-a fork tine will work just fine. This will allow steam to vent from the peppers as they cook and keep them from splitting.
Some fancier shishito pepper recipes are as follows:
Soy-Ginger Shishito Peppers
1 pound shishito peppers
½ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon zested fresh ginger
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
Sauté the shishito peppers over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Next, whisk the remaining ingredients except for the breadcrumbs together in a small bowl. Pour this sauce over the shishitos, and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the peppers are tender and the sauce begins to thicken into a glaze.
Toast the breadcrumbs over medium high-heat for 4-5 minutes.
Sprinkle atop the shishitos and serve.
Shishitos with Tomatoes and
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 pound shishito peppers
Dash of rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced shallots
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup cherry tomatoes, haled
½ cup cured and pitted black olives, preferably a Greek variety
Kosher salt to taste
Heat the grapeseed oil in a 10-inch pan over medium heat. Add the shishitos and sauté 2-3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, shallots, garlic, tomatoes and olives, and cook 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt to taste after plating. Serve hot or chilled.
Grilled Shishito Peppers
1 pound shishito peppers, left whole
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon coarse or flake salt, such as Maldon or kosher
¼ cup finely chopped almonds
Heat a grill to high.
In a large bowl, combine the peppers and 1 tablespoons of the oil. Swirl and toss the peppers until evenly coated with the oil.
Using tongs, arrange the peppers on the grill so they lay across the directions of the grates (not with them). The goal is to prevent the peppers from falling through the grates. Cook, turning often, until the peppers begin to brown and blister, about 4-6 minutes.
Return the peppers to the bowl (no need to wipe it out). Add the remaining oil, the salt and almonds, then toss well. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
Look for the peppers where you may find unusual veggies or as we are doing, get some seed and grow your own.