Blistered Shishito Peppers

Photo from Jenny Park and Teri Lynn Fisher's blog, Spoon Fork Bacon.

JP tells me that this week's bag will contain shishito peppers and suggested that I feature them in the recipe.

Of Japanese origin, folks describe shishito peppers as  grassy and citrusy,  sweet and mild in taste.  Except when they aren't.

Some say that about one in ten or twenty are hot, which makes them a fun kind of surprise.  In Scoville heat units, they measure  50 – 200, meaning that at their hottest, they are still 13 times milder than jalapeños.  Matt Bray of Pepper Scale writes that it's likely that the shishito has its roots in the padrón, another pepper which varies in heat.  That pepper likely ended up in Spain in the 16th century from South America.  He speculates that the Japanese soil mixed with continued growing of the mildest peppers likely converted the taste and heat to what we have today.

On the other hand, Sandi Gaertner writes in her Fearless Dining blog that "I have yet to find a hot one….and I have had at least four pints of shishito peppers in the past month in our farm box." Despite not finding any hot ones, they are still a favorite and she has recipes for a variety of chilled soups including pepper,  pepper and mango and gazpacho,  as well as for a shishito sauce to serve with chicken over cheesy polenta and a shishito stir fry.

Since shishitos have thin walls, they can be roasted whole and eaten, except for the stems.  I am giving you directions on how to blister them in an iron skillet.  Since it would take at least a half a  pound to serve four as an appetizer,  I'm suggesting that if there are fewer you halve them lengthwise and use to garnish this week's tomatoes and cucumbers in the quinoa salad or use them to supplement other sweet peppers in Gaertner's recipes.


Serves 4

Salad ingredients:
2 cups of chickpeas or black beans, cooked
1 cup heirloom tomatoes, chopped coarsely quartered
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 cup quinoa, cooked
2 tablespoons onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, minced
4 tablespoons lime juice
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Blistered pepper ingredients:
whole shishito peppers, washed and dried
1 tablespoon non extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil or ghee
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, plus more for drizzling at the end
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds


1.  The night before, to cook the beans, in a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan, cover one cup of dried chickpeas with three cups of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover with lid and simmer for five minutes.  Let soak overnight.  Drain and rinse the chickpeas and repeat, but this time simmer until soft, about an hour to an hour and a half.  Drain and rinse a second time.

2.  To cook the quinoa, add the 2/3 cup of raw quinoa and to two cups of boiling water and return to boil. Take off stove and rinse well. Add back in a scant 2 cups of water and return to stove and bring to a boil. Turn down to low. Cover. Cook 15 minutes. Let stand for five minutes and then
fluff with a fork.

3.  In a medium large bowl,  combine all the salad ingredients, cover and store in refrigerator to chill. 
4.   Place cast iron skillet over medium heat.  When a drop of water will evaporate add sesame seeds and cook until they pop and transfer to a dish.
5.  Turn the heat to high and add the oils.

6.  Carefully add peppers to pan and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, moving them around the pan frequently. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Once peppers have charred/blistered all around and have begun to wilt remove from heat.  Cut in half lengthwise.

8.  To serve, transfer the salad to four individual bowls, top with half a pepper (or more, if they are available)  and toasted sesame seeds and drizzle with additional sesame seed oil.