Shishito peppers are small and slender peppers of the species Capsicum annuum. The peppers can range in color from light green to bright yellow and red when ripe.
They are not particularly spicy; most of them have a mild flavor, but occasionally you’ll find one that is unexpectedly hot, yet these are not hot peppers. The heat level varies, so it’s best to taste test before adding them to any dishes like classic blistered shishito peppers.
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What Do Shishito Peppers Taste Like?
Shishito peppers have a unique flavor that combines sweetness and smokiness. They are often eaten raw or blistered in oil and served as an appetizer with a side of dipping sauce.
The bright small green peppers can also be skewered and grilled. Grilled shishito peppers bring out the charred, smoky flavor that enhances the natural sweetness of the shishitos.
Whether you’re eating them raw or cooked, shishito peppers are sure to bring complexity and depth to any dish they touch!
Types of Shishito Peppers
Japanese pepper (shishito peppers) is known for its mild heat but occasional spicy kick. They are delicious and versatile pepper that can be used in a variety of dishes to add flavor, texture, and heat.
From sweet and mild to spicy and smoky, different varieties of shishito peppers offer unique flavors and textures that make them a popular choice for appetizers, snacks, or sides.
Padron peppers are among the most popular types of shishito pepper. These small green or red peppers have a rich smoky flavor and can be eaten raw, cooked, or fried as an appetizer or snack.
They also make an excellent addition to salads, pasta dishes, pizza, stews, and stir-fries due to their complex flavor profile and mild heat tolerance.
Guindilla peppers are another type of shishito pepper that is commonly found in Spanish cuisine. Blistered over an open flame and served as tapas or as side dish accompaniment, guindilla peppers have a mild heat with some varieties having more spice than others.
They can easily add flavor and kick to any meal such as casual dinners or tapas dishes.
🌶️ How Hot Is Shishito Pepper?
Generally speaking, shishito peppers are quite mild, with a Scoville heat range of 50- 200. This is much lower than the 2,500-5,000 of jalapeno pepper, making them significantly less spicy.
The shishito peppers aren’t hot; they are considered mild in terms of heat, usually scoring no more than a medium on the Scoville scale. That means most people can enjoy these peppers without worrying about too much spice.
However, it's important to note that each pepper can vary in spiciness, and you may occasionally come across one with more heat than expected.
🌶️ Shishito Pepper History
The pepper originated in Japan over 500 years ago. It was originally cultivated by Buddhist monks looking for new food sources. Since then, it has become an essential part of Japanese culture and cuisine.
The peppers are typically eaten as tempura or stir-fried with soy sauce and garlic, but they can also be used to add flavor to salads and other dishes.
🌶️ How To Cook With Shishito Peppers
One of the most popular ways to prepare shishito peppers is by making blistered shishito peppers, which are incredibly simple to make and use only a few ingredients, yet it packs a ton of flavor.
To make blistered, heat a large skillet or cast iron over high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and then add your peppers in a single layer; they should sizzle when they hit the hot pan.
Let them cook for 4 to 7 minutes over high heat until they are lightly browned and slightly charred, flipping them with tongs to even cooked.
Once they’re blistered and slightly charred, remove them from the heat and add the shishito peppers in a bowl with a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve hot as an appetizer or side dish.
To finish off the dish, add some fresh lemon juice and an easy aioli or peanut sauce for extra flavor. Cooking shishito peppers allows you to enjoy the unique sweetness and smoky charred flavor that makes them a popular snack or appetizer.
🌶️ Substitutes for Shishito Peppers
There are several options available. Padron peppers, guindilla peppers, and jalapeños have similar flavors and textures to shishito peppers.
In addition, bell peppers or poblano peppers can be used in place of shishito peppers when needed.
Each of these peppers will add a unique flavor to your dish, so experiment and see which one you like best.
🌶️ Growing Shishito Peppers
The shishito pepper prefers warm weather and grows best in temperatures that range between 70°F (21°C) to 80°F (27°C). They require full sun exposure, so if you live in a cooler climate, you may need to invest in a grow light or greenhouse to ensure that your peppers get enough sunlight.
The plants should also be kept well-watered; too little water can cause the peppers to dry out and shrivel up before they have a chance to mature.
🌶️ Benefits of Shishito Peppers
In addition to being delicious, shishito peppers are quite healthy. They are low in calories but high in vitamins C and A and carotenoids, which can help reduce inflammation.
They also contain capsaicin, which is known for its pain-relieving properties. So not only do these peppers taste great, but but they can also help keep you healthy.
What To Serve With It
Let’s explore some delicious recipes that are sure to make your next shishito pepper experience extra special.
For an Asian-inspired meal, serve the peppers with dishes like Kung Pao Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, or Soba Noodles. The mild heat from the peppers will add an extra kick of flavor to each dish.
For a great combo plate, try this recipe for shishito pepper and teriyaki chicken skewers—the perfect mix of flavor and texture!
Grilled or Pan-Fried Tomato Bruschetta
To add a bit of brightness to your meal, serve the peppers with grilled or pan-fried tomato bruschetta. This combination is simple yet elegant; it makes for a great appetizer or light lunch option.
To prepare the bruschetta, start by heating olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add tomatoes and seasonings and cook until softened and lightly browned.
Place the cooked tomatoes on top of sliced baguette slices and top with blistered shishito peppers for an amazing flavor burst!
Skirt Steak & Lemony Salad
For a unique flavor combination, try skirt steak and lemony salad served with blue cheese and mint. The sweetness of the lemony salad combined with the saltiness of blue cheese will create a delightful contrast against the smokiness of the peppers.
To make this dish even more special, drizzle over some balsamic vinegar just before serving.
Happy Hour Snack
For a fun summer happy hour snack, serve blistered shishito peppers alongside drinks like beer or Margaritas. The mild smokiness of these peppers will perfectly complement any drink you choose.
Plus, their bright colors make them look especially beautiful on a dinner plate when paired with colorful cocktails - perfect for impressing guests at your next gathering.
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📖 Recipe Card
- Shishito Peppers 1 pound
- Peanut Oil (Variations: avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil. ) 2 tablespoon
- Garlic (Minced) 3 cloves
- Sea Salt ½ teaspoon
- Flake Salt (Adds texture and enhances flavor) ¼ teaspoon
- Black Pepper ¼ teaspoon
- Gather Your Ingredients:You will need one pound of fresh shishito peppers, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (variations: avocado oil, peanut oil, a partial amount of sesame oil to another oil), 2–3 cloves of garlic (minced or thinly sliced), ½ teaspoon of sea salt, and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
- Preparing the Peppers for Cooking:Once you have all your ingredients gathered, it’s time to prep the peppers for cooking. Start by washing them in cold water while gently rubbing off any dirt. Then, pat them dry using paper towels or a kitchen cloth before cutting off the stems and discarding them. You can leave some of the stems on if you like for presentation purposes. Next, cut each pepper in half lengthwise so that they all have a flat surface and can cook evenly when placed in the pan.
- Cooking The Peppers:Now that your peppers are prepped, let's cook the peppers! Heat up two tablespoons of avocado oil or olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it is hot enough for frying - about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the prepared peppers and garlic to the pan and stir frequently until they are lightly browned and crispy - about 3 to 7 minutes depending on how high your heat is set at. Once they are cooked and lightly browned, remove them from the pan and let them cool for a few minutes before serving them with your favorite accompaniments.
- Grill The Peppers:If you prefer to grill the shishito peppers, preheat the grill to medium-high heat (about 425F). When the grill is hot, brush the grates with a light layer of oil. Place the peppers in a single layer onto the grill and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes, flipping them over occasionally to ensure even cooking. Keep an eye on the peppers and watch for them to blister and char.
- GarnishPresentation and texture are a must in a chef's life. Try adding some wedges of fresh lime, sprinkling sesame seeds, or fresh cilantro to your serving plate. Pair with sauces like:Kewi mayo, sriracha mayo, pretty much any aioli dipping sauce, and others like soy sauce and hoisin. The sky is the limit.