When I went on a Yakitori kick a few years ago, there was one recipe I couldn’t try – grilled shishito peppers – because I couldn’t find them in Northeastern Ohio.1
Last week, I was surprised by a stack of shishito peppers in plastic clamshells at my local grocery store, right next to the Jalapeños. It’s amazing how easy it is to be an adventurous home cook nowadays. Ingredients that were only in specialty and ethnic markets are showing up at my everyday grocery store. Now, I’m not going to stop going to my ethnic markets; I get great deals on rice and soy sauce, dried peppers and Mexican sparkling water. But, still, it’s nice to be able to grab exotic ingredients while I’m filling my weekly shopping cart.
Sorry, got off on a tangent. Where was I? Right, shishito peppers.
Why didn’t someone tell me about shishito peppers before? They’re perfect as a grilled appetizer, because blackening the skin just a little brings out their sweetness. They have just a hint of heat, enough so they’re interesting, not so much that you’re suffering. And, my favorite part – they’re bite sized. Grab the stem as a handle, and chomp down. If you’re looking for a quick bite to tide everyone over while you finish the main course, or an easy side dish for Asian inspired grilling, check out these peppers.
Season the peppers: In a small bowl, toss the shishito peppers with the vegetable oil and salt.
Set up the grill for direct medium heat: Set the grill up for direct medium heat. On my Weber kettle, I light a chimney starter 3/4 full of charcoal, wait for it to be mostly covered with ash, then pour it in a loose single layer. (This gives me a little more than half the grill with direct medium heat.)
Grill the peppers: Put the peppers on the grate over direct medium heat and grill them, turning often, until the skin of the peppers blackens and blisters in spots, about 4 minutes. (You don’t want completely blackened, just in spots). Move the peppers to a plate and serve.
Cuisine: Japanese |Recipe Type: Grilling
Medium heat is the best balance of time and temperature for these peppers. But, if you are grilling a main course that requires a different heat level, you can make it work. The peppers are done when they are blackened in spots; don't worry about a specific time. I've done them on high heat, flipping them often to keep them from burning, and I have to get them off the grill in about 2 minutes.
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“Shishito” is an unfortunate name in English. My inner 8-year-old keeps giggling when I say it out loud.↩
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