One of my favorite quick and easy side dishes on a hot summer evening is Blistered Shishito Peppers. You'll see shishito peppers this time of year in all the markets. But I'll be honest, I walked by them in the produce department for years before actually purchasing them.
I'm finally recovered enough from my spine surgery to drive to the farmer's market, a real highlight for me. The one I go to is a 30 – 40 minute drive around the Lake a bit, depending on traffic, and I am beyond excited to be able to go tomorrow. I plan to buy more of these fabulous little peppers.
What Are Shishito Peppers?
Shishito peppers are green, thin-skinned, skinny peppers that are about 2 – 4 inches long. Their bodies have a wrinkled appearance, something I relate to LOL, and can appear sunken in along their lengths. They look nearly identical to padrón peppers, and are often confused. But more about that later.
They hale from Eastern Asia and are popular in both Japanese and Korean dishes.
Shishito Heat Index
Shishito peppers are only moderately spicy, but in any batch you purchase, roughly 10% of them can be very spicy. No one seems to understand why there's such a range in heat. Technically they're considered a sweet pepper, and have a grassy flavor with a hint of smoke.
What's the Difference Between Shishito and Padrón Peppers?
I often see both shishito and padrón peppers at both my farmer's market in Tahoe City and at my grocery store. They look nearly identical and cook up the same way using various techniques. The differences between them are subtle.
First of all, padrón peppers are native to Spain, in the northwestern municipality of Padrón, and are a very popular tapa with cheese. But legend has it that they made their way to Spain from South American with the 16th century Spanish monks. Unsurprisingly, they're grown today in Mexico and the US.
Where shishito peppers are grassy, padrón peppers are more earthy and nutty. In appearance, they're more stocky than the more willowy shishito, and a little less wrinkly.
Padrón Heat Index
Like shishito peppers, padróns are considered a sweet pepper with low to moderate heat. However, they also have the odd sudden pepper that spikes up the heat. This will happen more often with padrón peppers than with the shishito – maybe 5% in any bunch you buy.
Making Blistered Shishito Peppers
First of all, this is one of the easiest side dishes you will ever make, and can also be served as a fabulous appetizer. Just be sure to make a lot, because they'll be popular. I guarantee it. A selling point, there's no prepping, other than grating the cheese, assuming you don't already have grated cheese on hand.
Secondly, you won't need any special equipment to make them. Unless you consider a sauté pan fancy. Oh, and a cheese grater. I do like to grate my own cheese – the flavor is so much fresher. And pre-grated cheese often includes cellulose to prevent it from clumping. The cellulose mutes the flavor of the cheese.
Step 1: Prep Ahead
Wash the peppers, but don't remove the stems. Dry them well so they won't splatter like little uzi when they hit the oil. Grate the cheese.
Step 2: Blister the Shishito Peppers
Heat a slick of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and for a Pro Tip: toss in the peppers in just enough olive oil to coat them. This is important as they're so irregularly shaped. This means that much of their surfaces can't pick up oil from the pan when you toss them in. If they're not oiled, they won't char and blister as well.
Lower the heat to medium, and add the peppers to the pan. They should sizzle, and after one minute begin to make popping sounds. This is a good thing. Turn them roughly every minute. The surfaces of the peppers should blister and char quickly – no more than 10 minutes for all sides of the peppers.
Step 3: Add the Salt and Grated Cheese
Turn off the heat and dust the peppers with kosher salt and toss. Sprinkle on as much (or little) grated cheese as you want. I used Jack Cheese, but most melty cheeses will work. Or, eliminate the cheese altogether. It's up to you!
Step 4: Serve
For an appetizer, I cook these peppers up in a cast iron skillet and serve them in the skillet. For a meal, I place the skillet in the middle of the table on a hot pad. This keeps the peppers warm and the cheese all melty and irresistible.
Blistered Shishito Peppers
- Wash and be sure to thoroughly dry the peppers to prevent spattering. Drizzle a little oil over the peppers and gently rub it in using your fingers.
- Heat a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining oil. You won't need much more than a slick of oil.
- When it's hot, lower the heat to medium, and add the peppers. It's fine if they're touching each other in the pan. They should sizzle, and after about 1 minute, begin to pop. This is a good thing! Turn them every minute or so until they're blistered and charred on all sides. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, and add a little salt to the peppers. Toss the peppers in the pan, and sprinkle with as much (or as little) cheese as you like.
- These are best served in the pan to keep them warm and the cheese all melty.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month's theme is a Easy Summer Dishes, and our host is Barb who blogs at Creative Culinary
If you're unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it's a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious summer inspired dishes!
Easy Summer Dishes
- Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagel Board – Creative Culinary
- Radish Toast, Two Ways – Sarah's Cucina Bella
- Country-Style Potato Salad with Creole Mustard – Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Cucumber Salad – Healthy Delicious
- Blistered Shishito Peppers with Cheese – The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Indian Carrot Salad – SpiceRoots
- Chicken Fried Rice – The Heritage Cook
- Minty Couscous Salad – Mother Would Know
- Fudgy Brownies from Scratch – That Skinny Chick Can Bake