Last week at my local farmer's market, I spotted something I hadn't seen all season: shishito peppers. Before a couple of years ago I had never heard of these lovely little peppers, but ever since a friend introduced me to them I have had eagle-eyes wherever I think they may pop up. Sometimes I can find them at my local Whole Foods, but I have never seen them at the farmer's market until this year.
I think one of the reasons they are becoming easier to find is that they are super trendy at the moment. From Portland to New York, shishitos are popping up in farmstands and on menus quicker than you can say, um, pepper.
For those of you who have never heard of them, shishito peppers originate in Japan (they actually place them out at bars instead of our peanuts!), but are grown worldwide and are known for their mild, smokey taste. They make a great appetizer or accompaniment and are knock-your-socks off flavorful without any of the heat normally associated with peppers. An added bonus is that nutritionally they are high in vitamins K, B6 and C so you know you are doing your body good when eating these.
Shishitos are really easy to prepare, and are especially good when cooked in a cast iron pan or on the grill. The aim is to cook them until they blister slightly, because this adds to their smoky flavor.
Blistered Shishito Peppers
1 pound shishito peppers, preferably with stem intact
1-2 Tablespoons of coconut oil or ghee (or another oil or fat with a high smoke point)
Salt (I use pink salt)
In a large bowl, mix peppers, oil or fat and a teaspoon of salt until all the peppers are fully coated. Keep the bowl that you've mixed everything in for later so the peppers can get a final toss before serving.
On the stovetop:
Place the peppers in a single layer in your pan. Cook (don't stir them!) on medium-high heat, uncovered, until they start to sizzle and char, usually around 10 minutes. Turn them and cook for 5-10 minutes more.
In the oven:
Same directions as above, making sure to use a cast iron pan. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes, toss the peppers and bake 5-10 minutes more.
On the grill:
Same directions as above, cooking the peppers over medium high heat for 6-8 minutes, turning occasionally.
Once cooked, return the peppers to the bowl and toss in the remaining oil and salt, adding more salt if necessary.
Serve and enjoy while still warm.
Shishitos are a crowd-pleaser and really easy to pull off without much effort. I hope you can find some in your area to try before the season is over!