Sunday, September 4, 2011

Shishito Peppers: A lasting flash in the pan

A growing culinary trend in New York City and the Hamptons confirms three of my golden food rules: 1) Anything fresh is better; 2) Anything Japanese* is delicious; and 3) Most things fried are a treat.

My eyes have been lighting up at all the non-Japanese establishments now serving grilled or flash fried shishito peppers on their appetizer menus.  Not-coated or battered, the frying feels healthier than what you may be imagining, and these sweet little summer gems could really replace the deep-fried frozen jalapeno poppers blanketing many menus.

When these little guys arrived in my CSA box last week, I knew I had to try my hand at preparing them as I enjoyed them in Japan and as my husband I regularly now order them.  I winged it and we loved it, so this simple little preparation is becoming a post. I'd love to hear suggestions on grilling, omitting oil together, if any of you readers have a healthier recipe you'd like to share in the comments.

*As you may know from this post, I lived in and adore Japan.  

Flash Fried Shishito Peppers
  • As many shishito peppers as you wish to serve, no more than will fit in a single layer of your frying pan or skillet
  • Equal parts Olive Oil, Peanut Oil and Sesame Oil, enough to cover the pan in a 1/4 inch layer when combined 
    • For six peppers, I used about 1.5 tablespoons of each in a 10-inch pan and had oil left over
  • A healthy dose of sea salt
  • Slightly pierce each pepper through to the middle to prevent them from puffing up during  cooking
  • Over low-medium heat, warm the oil blend in your frying pan or skillet for 2 minutes just before it starts to smoke
  • Standing back, and using an oil guard if you have one (I never do, and clean oil splatters regularly), place the peppers in the oil mixture
  • Sear the peppers for 2 minutes.  Before they start to burn, use tongs to flip.  Sear an additional 1- 2 minutes, and transfer to a paper towel to drain
  • While still warm, liberally dose with sea salt and serve

About Shishito Peppers
Looks are deceiving when it comes to this little pepper.  Small like their hot cousins, nine out of 10 are actually quite mild and sweet.  The name comes from the Japanese word for lion, shishi, as the top of the stem is said to look like the head of a lion. 

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