Simple Shishito Peppers
Japanese Bar Snack
Shishito peppers are a classic bar snack served in Japan. Shishito means "Chinese lion" and refers to the cap of the pepper which looks like a lion's mane, well... maybe after a couple cocktails it might look like a lion's mane. They are also called Wrinkled Old Man peppers due to their wrinkly skin, so take your pick.
These mild, miniature peppers can be pan-fried, cooked tempura-style, grilled or roasted. I like them simply pan-fried in a little bit of olive oil and seasoned with some flakey salt. These peppers are mild and addictingly good. One in 10 has a hot kick to it, making them all the more fun to eat because you never know when you are going to get the zippy one. They are a super easy, inexpensive accompaniment to any happy hour celebration, whether you are drinking beer, wine or gin and tonics. I recommend Spanish-style gin and tonics.
Padron peppers are very similar to shishito peppers and interestingly, are a classic bar snack in Spain. Go into any tapas or pinxto bar and there is a good chance they serve cooked-to-order Padron peppers. Like shishito peppers, padron peppers are mild with 1 out of 10 Padrons significantly hotter than the majority.
Where To Buy Your New Favorite Snack
For a long time your best bet was to buy shishito peppers at Asian markets or farmers markets. Now Trader Joe's carries these delicious treats for about $2 for a 6-ounce bag. I buy 14-ounce bags for $2.99 at the Korean H Market in Irvine, California, where they are labeled "sweet peppers."
Shishitos Are Good For You
The good news is shishito peppers are good for you. They are low cal (approximately 2 - 3 calories per pepper) and rich in Vitamins B6, C, E & K and a good source for fiber and iron. These shishito peppers fit into all special diets - gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan and low-carb.
You can add garlic, lemon or balsamic vinegar to these peppers, serve them with a sauce or mix in a few slivers of Serrano ham. Try them salted first and you may find simple is best. You can also serve these peppers as an accompaniment to steak or chicken.
Don't Forget The Salt
This is the time to bring out your best flakey salt. Maldon sea salt works beautifully, or splurge and use a seasoned salt such as truffle salt, citrus salt or charcoal salt.
Pan-fried Shishito Peppers
Pan-fried shishito peppers make a quick, economical and an addictively delicious happy hour snack.
- 1/2 pound shishito or padron peppers
- 1 T olive oil
- Flakey salt
- Heat a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan to medium high. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the peppers and fry until the skin of the peppers is blistered, turning occasionally, about 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and season generously with flakey salt.