These blistered shishito peppers are perfect little snack bites! They take less than 10 minutes to prepare. All you need are the shishito peppers, olive oil, and salt, and maybe some balsamic for drizzling if you want to get a little fancy.
What are Shishito Peppers?
They’re a thin-skinned, sweet pepper from Japan. I say sweet, but about one in ten of the peppers are spicy. Not as hot as a jalapeño, but enough to make your tongue tingle. They’re about the same size as a padron pepper, the ones I’ve seen at the market ranging from 1 to 5 inches long.
They come into season in summer through early fall, so grab a box at your local farmer’s market while you can. Our local Whole Foods also carries them.
The Perfect Appetizer Bites
Shishito peppers are sort of boring raw, honestly. But seared so the skin blisters up in dark bubbly patches? So good!
Blistered shishitos are perfect little appetizer bites. They even come with their own handle. Just hold them by the stem and pop them in your mouth. Eat them seeds and all.
You can eat the blistered shishitos plain, or you can toss them in a balsamic glaze, or sauté them as described in this recipe, then add some soy sauce and mirin to the pan (2:1 ratio) to coat.
Can Padron Peppers be Substituted for Shishitos?
Padron peppers and shishitos look very much alike. The most important difference from a culinary perspective is the level of heat. Both peppers vary in their heat level, so you never quite know how hot one will be until you bite into it.
While shishito peppers are almost all very mild, with a medium level spicy one coming every one in ten peppers, padron peppers are almost all somewhat spicy, with every one in ten being flaming hot.
You would prepare padrons exactly the same way, blistering them in a hot pan with a little oil. Whereas shishitos are often eaten plain, padrons you might want to serve with a sour-cream based dipping sauce, to help mitigate the heat.
What else can you make with shishito peppers?
You can use shishito peppers for tempura, as you would a green bean or asparagus spear. You can blister them and put them in tacos, quesadillas, or a grilled cheese sandwich.
You can stir-fry them with other vegetables. You can include them with the tomatoes in a gazpacho. You can sauté them and then purée them with yogurt, olive oil, lime juice, and garlic to make a lightly spicy creamy sauce.
Dipping Sauces for Shishito Peppers
While shishitos are delicately flavored and excellent on their own, they do come with their own handle. So if you want, you can easily serve them with a dipping sauce. Here are a few ideas:
- Greek yogurt or sour cream mixed with lemon juice and herbs or garlic
- Sour cream or mayonnaise mixed rice vinegar and a little hot sauce
- Creamy peanut sauce made with peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, and lime
- Aioli — a homemade mayonnaise with garlic
- Ranch Dressing
Have your own shishito pepper dipping sauce you would like to share? Tell us about it in the comments!
More Favorite Appetizers
Blistered Shishito Peppers Recipe
Recipe is easily doubled, but cook in batches so as not to crowd the pan.
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 20 or so shishito peppers (about 4 or 5 ounces, 1 small basket)
- Sprinkle of kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 Toss peppers with oil: Toss shishito peppers with extra virgin olive oil in a bowl, so the peppers are well coated.
2 Sear in frying pan: Heat a well seasoned cast iron (or a pan that can take high heat) on high heat. When the pan is hot, add the peppers to the pan in a single layer. Let the peppers sear and blister on one side, then use tongs to turn them over individually to sear on the other side.
3 Salt: Remove to a bowl and sprinkle the shishito peppers with salt.
4 Make balsamic glaze (Optional): Add a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar* to the pan. Remove from heat, and let bubble until the vinegar reduces to a glaze, which should be very quickly. Pour over the blistered shishito peppers.
*Balsamic vinegar can be syrupy and sweet, or thin and acidic. Use the syrupy kind. If what you have is thin and very acidic, stir with a half teaspoon of sugar or honey before adding to the hot pan.
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