Grilled Shishito Peppers are blistered on a screaming hot grill pan and served with salt and soy sauce for a delicious Japanese appetizer. Just grab a pepper by the stem and gobble it down!
You might have noticed grilled shishito peppers on the appetizer menus of super trendy restaurants lately. And no kidding, this is one of the quickest and easiest dishes you’ll ever make, and you will get raves, I promise. Oh, and I should mention that they’re about 4 calories apiece. For real.
did you know?
Shishitos are a variety of small, thin-skinned green peppers known as Lion Head Peppers in Japan. They’re harvested while still green and are about three to four inches in length. Shishito peppers have a wrinkled, glossy skin, and their flavor is often described as mild and sweet. But approximately one in ten peppers can be quite spicy, making them an adventure to eat. They’re sometimes referred to as “Russian Roulette” peppers, as you never know which one might have that kick!
Peppers are the unsung heroes of late summer. While everyone is talking about tomatoes and zucchinis, we forget that peppers are just as abundant and just as delicious. And they come in more varieties, shapes, colors, and sizes than any other veggie I know.
RELATED: Molly Baz’ Blistered Cheesy Peppers
I first discovered shishitos when our friend Ken, who grows them in his yard in Southern California, offered to give me some to play with. He says they’re easy to grow, and the more you harvest them, the more you get, so I didn’t feel too guilty accepting a big armful from him. You can grow them in pots, too, because the plants are bushy and the peppers are small (about finger length.)
But unless you grow your own, Shishito peppers can be hard to find, they’re usually just in Asian markets or farmers’ markets. But the good news for you guys without gardens is that Trader Joe’s now sells bags of fresh Shishito peppers year round! I picked up a couple bags to augment what Ken gave us, because once you flash roast these little peppers, the hand to mouth reflex kicks in and you can down dozens without coming up for air.
how to blister shishito peppers
To make the most unique, healthy and delicious appetizer you’ve ever had, all you have to do is literally toss the peppers with a little oil (I used sesame) and then shake them around a very hot pan for 5 minutes until they’re slightly blackened and blistered in spots. The pan needs to be nice and hot and the peppers should start making popping sounds on contact with the pan as the moisture and steam builds up inside.
Just shake the pan every 30 seconds or so to shift them around, or use tongs if you want to be more precise. After about 5 minutes they’ll be blackened, slightly softened, and giving off their aroma.
how to serve blistered shishito peppers
I sprinkle with a little coarse salt and sesame seeds, they’re fabulous just as is, no sauce required. You can eat them as is, hot from the pan, or, if you must dip, a little Tamari or ponzu sauce works well. Ken’s’s wife likes to sprinkle them with salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Heaven.
how to eat shishito peppers
Grab each pepper by the stem and eat the whole pepper. The entire pepper, stem and seeds included, is edible. Personally I prefer to leave the little stem end behind, but that’s your call.
Grilled shishito peppers are great to do when you have guests over because they take just minutes and everyone will love to watch. The only pitfall you’ll run into here is not making enough. A normal person can down 25 of these in a blink of an eye. They’re not heavy or filling, and there is (usually!) no spicy heat to slow you down. Plan on making lots, and serve with some ice cold beer.
faqs and tips for making grilled shishito peppers
- I have read that some people prick each pepper with a pin before cooking, supposedly to prevent them from splitting as they cook. I don’t do that and I never have any problems with them bursting open.
- I’ve made these both with and without oil and both ways work great, so if you are really trying to cut calories, toast them in a dry pan and then just use the salt and lemon juice option.
- These actually reheat in the microwave pretty well, so if you have any leftover, save them for later.
- Are shishito peppers spicy?
- The vast majority of shishito peppers are as mild as bell peppers. But a strange but true fact is that about 1 out of every 10 Shishito peppers is actually very hot. No one knows quite why this is, but be aware, and keep that cold beer handy just in case.
- Why are some shishito peppers red?
- Shishito peppers go from green to red as they ripen, so a red one is perfectly ripe. Shishitos are usually harvested and consumed while they are green.
- Why are shishito peppers served blistered or blackened?
- The peppers are very thin skinned and they blacken almost instantly over high heat. The blistering adds great flavor to the mild peppers.
- What type of pan should I use?
- A grill pan or cast iron skillet is ideal. You want a pan that can safely withstand high heat while you blister your peppers. (Do not use a non-stick pan.) Make sure your pan can hold all your peppers without crowding, or work in batches.
more Japanese inspired recipes to try
- Edamame Salad
- Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry Bowl
- Salmon Sushi Bowls
- Japanese Carrot Ginger Dressing
- Easy Miso Soup Recipe
- Japanese ochazuke with fried rice cakes and salmon
- Japanese Cucumber Salad (Sunomono)
- cast iron skillet or grill pan
- 1/2 lb Shishido peppers, about 40 peppers
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil, or peanut, olive, or whatever cooking oil you like
- black sesame seeds , and/or sea salt
- tamari soy sauce, ponzu sauce, or fresh lemon juice
- Toss the peppers in a little bit of oil to lightly coat them. I used sesame oil, but you can use olive, peanut, or whatever oil you like.
- Set a grill pan or large skillet over medium high heat and let it heat up until nice and hot.
- Put the peppers in and let them cook for about 5 minutes, until they are blistered and charred in parts. Shake the pan or toss them around every 30 seconds or so.
- Remove from the pan and sprinkle with sesame seeds or salt.
- Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon, or a light sauce.