Shishito peppers are mild to medium-sized varieties of chili peppers that, when ripe, can range in color from light green to bright yellow and red.
They have an unpredictable level of heat, which makes them exciting for those who enjoy spice in their meals. Some shishito peppers may be surprisingly hot, though they are generally considered mild; you’ll come across one at some point.
A favorite way to enjoy them is by blanching or roasting them until they become lightly charred, resulting in a sweet and smoky flavor. Perfect to top off salads, tacos, sandwiches, pizzas, and more!
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What Are Shishito Peppers
Popular Japanese chili pepper is harvested while green and in the early spring. It gets its name because the tip of the chili pepper looks like a lion's head in Japanese – but can often be abbreviated as "shishitō."
Peppers can be spicy anywhere from 1 out of 10 to 1 out of 20, depending on various conditions such as exposure to sunlight and other environmental stresses.
For example, the prefectural agricultural testing center at Kishigawa, Wakayama, stated in 2005 that capsaicin forms more easily in hot and dry conditions during the summer.
The thin skin makes them the perfect choice for recipes that require charring or lightly charred blistering. You can skewer and broil them on a grill, pan-fry them in oil, stew them in liquid with soy sauce or dashi broth, or add them as condiments to salads.
The delicate texture ensures they will cook quickly compared to other varieties of thicker-skinned peppers.
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.
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 peppers bring out the charred, smoky flavor that enhances the natural sweetness of the shishitos.
Whether you’re eating them raw or cooked, they are sure to bring complexity and depth to any dish they touch.
Are Shishito Peppers Hot
Are shishito peppers hot? Generally, they are mild and not considered hot peppers, 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 pepper is not 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.
How To Cook With Shishito Peppers
One of the most popular ways to cook shishito peppers is by making blistered shishitos, which are incredibly simple to make and use only a few ingredients, yet they pack a ton of flavor.
To make, 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 be evenly cooked.
Once blistered and slightly charred, remove them from the heat and add them to a bowl with a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or lemon zest. Serve hot as an appetizer or side dish.
To finish off the dish, add some fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, and or an easy lemon aioli or peanut sauce for extra flavor. Cooking them allows you to enjoy the unique sweetness and smoky charred flavor, making them a popular snack or appetizer.
There are several options available. Padron peppers, guindilla peppers, Anaheim and Pasilla, 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.
Padrón peppers are small green or red peppers that have a rich smoky flavor and can be eaten raw, cooked, or fried as an appetizer or snack.
Padrón peppers 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 substitute 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.
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 they can also help keep you healthy.
10 Shishito Pepper Recipes
Let’s explore some delicious recipes to cook shishito peppers that will make your next experience extra special.
- Sautéed with Soy Sauce
- Grilled Shishito Peppers Tacos
- Baked and Cheese
- Spicy Stir-Fried
- Crispy Garlic Saute
- Honey Mustard Glazed
- Sweet & Sour Pepper Salad
- Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Peppers
- Fried Rice with Sautéed Peppers and Soy Sauce
- Sauteed Asian-Style Mushrooms
Happy Hour Snack
For a fun summer happy hour snack, serve blistered shishito peppers you make at home 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.
Where To Buy
Fresh shishito peppers can often be found at your local grocery store or farmer’s market in the summer.
However, if you have trouble finding them locally, they can also be purchased online from various retailers year-round. You may be able to find them dried or canned in some stores as well.
Blistered Shishito Peppers Recipe
- 1 pound Shishito Peppers
- 2 tablespoon Peanut Oil Variations: avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil.
- 3 cloves Garlic Minced
- ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Flake Salt Adds texture and enhances flavor
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 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.While they are hot you can toss the peppers in a prepared sauce or condiment like soy sauce for a pop of flavor.
- 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.
- Garnish:Presentation 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.