Shishito Peppers are native to Japan but have become a favorite snack here in the states. The Shishito Pepper is often pan-seared and served as an appetizer, this is commonly known as blistered Shishito. These peppers are sweet and slightly smoky. They’re a party favorite!
What Are Shishito Peppers?
The Shishito is a spindly, wrinkled, green pepper which is native to Japan. The name of this pepper is actually a Japanese description of the way in which the tip of the pepper looks like a lion’s head. Although these peppers are mostly harvested when they’re green, they do turn bright red which results in a much hotter pepper.
Are Shishito Peppers Hot?
The curious thing about the Shishito Pepper is that only about 1 out of 20 peppers is spicy. That’s right, it’s something of a Russian roulette. However, no fear, even that 1 spicy pepper is really rather mild. Let’s turn to the Scoville scale to get an idea of how hot the hottest of green Shishito Peppers can be. A hot Shishito pepper registers about 250 Scoville heat units which is very mild when compared to the jalapeno pepper which ranges between 2,500 to 8,000 heat units. However, the first time I tried these peppers, I got the hot one and it did have somewhat of a kick; so, be warned, the spice is out there lurking in the bunch!
Why Are Only Some Shishito Peppers Hot?
Capsaicin is the plant compound responsible for making chili peppers hot. The reason some Shishito are hot and others are not is due to the amount of capsaicin in each pepper; some just have less than others. However, the question then becomes “why do some peppers have more capsaicin than others?” The reason for this has to do with the conditions in which the peppers are grown and when they are picked. For example, hot and dry conditions will induce stress on the plant which produces more capsaicin. Additionally, peppers that are allowed to sit on the plant longer will develop higher amounts of capsaicin as well.
What Do Shishito Peppers Taste Like?
They taste somewhat similar to bell peppers but not quite as sweet and with a slight “peppery” flavor. You’ve probably noticed that most peppers, included bell pepper, have a distinct “vegetable” or “grassy” flavor. These types of flavors are not as prominent in the Shishito Pepper which makes them, in my opinion, much more enjoyable.
How To Cook Shishito Peppers
The most common way to cook these peppers is by placing them in a cast iron skillet and searing them until they become blistered and slightly charred. First coats the peppers in olive oil by placing them in a bowl with olive oil and tossing them. Then heat a skillet over medium high heat, add the peppers in a single layer, and then cook for a couple minutes on each side, flipping them so both sides get cooked.
Check out my recipe for blistered shishito peppers!
Can I Eat Them Raw?
Yes, they can be eaten raw as well, similar to a bell pepper. However, I highly recommend you try them blistered. In my opinion, they were made to be eaten this way!
Where Can I Buy These Peppers?
Shishito Peppers are becoming increasingly popular which makes them easier to find at most grocery stores. I purchased mine at a Pavilion’s but I’ve heard that even Trader Joes also sells them. However, you’ll likely find they are available at just about any grocery store. Although these peppers are already a little wrinkled by nature, look for peppers which are free from blemishes. They should still be rather firm to the touch.
- Add them as a topping to salads like my Greek quinoa salad or Shirazi salad.
- Tuck them under the bun of your favorite burger; try them on my lentil burgers.
- Serve alongside other appetizers like my beet hummus, or vegan ceviche.
- As a topping for healthy vegan nachos.
Or, just eat them blistered and sprinkled with salt! They are so delicious!
Are Shishito Peppers Healthy?
Shishito Peppers are a great source of vitamin C, B6, A, and antioxidants. Chili peppers are also believed to be beneficial for weight loss; when they are consumed they produce a feeling of “fullness” which reduces appetite. Finally, peppers are a rich source of dietary fiber which is beneficial for digestive health. (1)(2)