Charred Shishito Peppers Recipe: An Easy Appetizer
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This quick and incredibly easy shishito peppers recipe is great to nibble on with drinks. It’s one of the best tapas out there and one of the few that’s truly simple to make at home. Padrón peppers work perfectly too! And don’t miss the amazing dipping sauce.
Why we love this recipe
Ugh, you guys. This recipe. It’s the little black dress of appetizers. Easy. Classy. Versatile. And just so good. These peppers:
- Transport you to your favorite sushi or tapas restaurant. If you’ve ever had them there, you know how addicting they can be.
- Are great for sharing
- Pair well with a wide variety of wines, sakes, and beers
- Are SO easy and ready in no time flat (I mean, you kinda burn them on purpose. It doesn’t get easier than that.)
- Are one- or two-bite finger food, and a great vector for shishito pepper dipping sauce
- Are pretty good for ya, as far as appetizers go
Bonus: Part of the fun of this recipe is that shishito and Padrón peppers, while mostly quite mild, are intermittently spicy. They come with a built-in game of roulette. It’s not just an appetizer. It’s an activity.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe. It’s not much!
- Shishito peppers (or use Padrón peppers and follow the exact same instructions). Happily, these guys have gotten a lot easier to find at stores over the past few years. Or grow your own. Look for firm, shiny peppers.
- Oil: I like to use safflower oil, but you can use any neutral-tasting oil that has a very high smoke point. Other perfectly good contenders are a vegetable oil blend, canola oil, peanut oil, and sunflower oil.
- Flaky sea salt makes a big difference. It adds a little bit of crunch and a delicate flavor that brings out the beauty of the peppers. I like Maldon salt.
How to make this shishito peppers recipe
Here’s all you need to do to make this charred shishito peppers recipe. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.
- Heat the oil in a cast iron pan. Cast iron holds onto heat incredibly well, which really helps with blistering the peppers.
- Add the peppers and spread them out so that a lot of them come into contact with the pan.
- Stir them up ever once in a while and cook for about 10 minutes, until they’re nice and charred and blistered in many spots, and the peppers have softened to the degree that you like.
- Sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt. Woohoo!
Shishito vs. Padrón Peppers
Shishitos and Padróns are cousins who grew up in different parts of the world.
Shishitos are from Japan, where apparently they were named because their ends look like lion heads, though I can’t say I quite see it.
Padróns are from their namesake region of Spain and are generally a little fatter than shishitos.
These peppers are just the right size for a bite or two, and you can eat the whole thing except the stem, which serves as a perfect little handle. They’re generally pretty mild, though part of the fun of eating them is that you’ll occasionally get a pretty spicy one and need to take an extra swig of your drink.
People claim that Padróns are more likely to be spicy, but I can’t really confirm this based on my own experience. The shishitos I cooked up for these photos were consistently on the pleasantly warm side, and I suspect there are enough varieties of each kind of pepper on the market these days that it’s all a bit of a delicious gamble.
Expert tips and FAQ
The hotness of peppers is measured in Scoville heat units. Shishitos range between 100 and 1,000 Scoville heat units (and Padróns between 500 and 2000).
This makes them hotter than bell peppers but way milder than jalapeños (2,500 to 8,000).
Some are a little hotter than others, which makes it fun.
These peppers taste bright, subtly sweet, and a tiny bit smoky.
Happily, these peppers are becoming more and more available in American supermarkets. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both carry them frequently.
If you’re into gardening, they’re also very popular to grow.
Good news here too. They’ll last raw in the fridge (in the perforated bag they’re sold in) for up to two weeks.
When cooked, this recipe can keep for up to a week in the fridge, though I’ve never seen them stick around that long.
How to serve it
Don’t forget the shishito pepper dipping sauce (a.k.a. spicy mayo).
- 1 tablespoon safflower oil (or other high-heat cooking oil)
- 12 ounces shishito or Padrón peppers
- Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- After washing the peppers, dry them thoroughly before cooking to reduce any splatters and also prevent them from steaming in the pan.
- These are best in the first hour or so after blistering, since their warmth offsets a nice cold drink. But I've never seen anyone turn them down at room temperature, either.
- Store any leftovers tightly sealed in the fridge for up to a week. Eat them alone, or add to salads.