Looking for something new for your football parties? These delicious little chile peppers are served with beer and sake in Japan and are perfect finger food. The fact that there’s virtually no prep involved is a bonus. They are called Shisito peppers on Japanese menus. Spanish tapas fans will know a similar pepper, the Padron pepper, which is prepared in the same fashion and also enjoyed with cocktails and beer in tapas restaurants. Both pepper varieties are addicting, especially with a cold brew.
Like the Padron peppers, Shisito peppers are generally mild and almost sweet, with one out of every ten peppers falling into the spicy range. They are small, thin-skinned and very easy to prepare. A brief sizzle in a hot frying pan to blister the skin and a sprinkle of coarse salt is all that’s needed. Shisitos come with stems attached, giving them their own handy serving utensil. To eat, the pepper is picked up by the stem and eaten in one bite, seeds and all, with the stem then discarded.
Fresh Shisito peppers may be a bit difficult to find, unless you are lucky to live in a town with an Asian grocery that sells fresh produce. However, don’t despair if you don’t. If you are a gardener, seeds for the easy-to-grow Shisitos are now available in a number of popular seed catalogs. I found the peppers you see in the photos here at my favorite Korean supermarket here in Vegas where they are labeled “Twisted Peppers”. I have also seen them called this in the seed catalogs.
I would suggest purchasing ½ pound per person. To prepare, wash, drain and dry well on a dishcloth while preheating a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Place the peppers in the dry pan (no oil is needed) and toss frequently until the skins are blistered and slightly charred in places, about 3-4 minutes. Don’t sauté for too long, or the peppers can lose their texture and become overly limp. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt right away and serve in a bowl. Enjoy these tasty bites hot or at room temperature.