I distinctly recall my first encounter with shishito peppers about 20 years ago.
These tiny green elongated peppers were piled in a large wicker basket at the stand for Bill and Barbara Spencer’s Windrose Farm, incredible farmers who no longer participate in our Santa Barbara market.
The peppers were about the same size and shape as my pinky finger. I wasn’t quite sure how to approach them, but as with most new encounters at farmers’ markets over the years, I was eager to learn the best preparation techniques.
Over the past couple of decades, I have been thoroughly enjoying these peppers through the summer and fall and still use the same simple process for cooking them in my kitchen that I learned from Bill and Barbara.
When it comes to preparing some tasty shishito peppers, all you need is a hot pan, olive oil and salt. If you have some garlic and fresh cracked pepper nearby, great, but the peppers don’t require much to be a true standout.
Blistered to perfection, shishito peppers are enjoyed right off the stem. You consume the flesh and seeds in unison, with just the tiny stem portion discarded.
Serve these peppers as a side dish alongside a nice steak or your favorite barbecued meat, or as a nice appetizer to enjoy before the main dish.
The slightly smoky presence, smooth texture, with mild peppery notes will have your friends and family diving in for more.
BLISTERED SHIHITO PEPPERS
1 pound shishito peppers, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (or just add slowly to taste and finish seasoning when done)
4 cloves garlic (sliced and tossed in a little olive oil)
fresh cracked pepper
Place a large pan over a burner and turn to high heat. Add olive oil and let it get hot.
Just before the oil reaches its smoke point, add the peppers. Toss occasionally, allowing the peppers to blister on all sides. Season with salt to taste.
Total cooking time should be about 5 minutes.
If adding garlic, toss in about 1 minute before the peppers are fully blistered. Season with freshly cracked pepper if desired.
Yield: Serves appetizers, small sides for 4.