Shishito peppers are mild green chili peppers with a bite! They are popular in Japan and are often served pan-fried as an appetizer or snack at izakaya restaurants or pan-grilled for Teppanyaki.
Hailed from East Asia, shishito peppers (獅子唐) are small peppers with thin and glossy skin, wrinkles on the surface, and a thin stem at the top. You may mistake them for jalapeños, but rest assured, the peppers are rated at 100-1,000 Scoville Heat Units, which means they are relatively tame.
You can eat whole chili peppers by grilling, deep-frying as tempura, sautéing, cooking in an air fryer, or broiling in an oven. They make the best appetizer when served pan-grilled until the skins are charred with a slightly crispy texture. Tossed with flaky sea salt, grinds of black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice, they can be so addicting that you can’t stop eating them!
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What Are Shishito Peppers
These lime green finger-sized wrinkly peppers are young pods harvested early and turn red when mature. They are usually served as a main dish/protein side dish.
The name shishi (獅子) refers to the Chinese guardian lion, as the tip of the shishito supposedly resembles it. They are harvested year-round and reach peak season in spring and summer.
They are also known as lion head peppers and groundcherry peppers.
What Does It Taste Like
Raw shishito peppers have a fresh, grassy, slightly bitter flavor, like green bell peppers. Once cooked, shishito peppers develop a mild, slightly creamy, sweet taste that comes with a bite.
Approximately one in ten shishito peppers are fiercely spicy, so watch out!
How To Cook
The beauty of shishito peppers is they cook quickly and need minimal prep. You can pan-fry them, put them on skewers to grill, simmer the peppers in dashi-based liquid, or eat them raw in a salad.
To prevent the peppers from popping, I recommend poking one or two small holes in the peppers before searing them directly on the hot pan. Add enough oil to the pan, spread out in a single layer, and cook on medium-high heat.
The easiest method to cook shishito is by heating a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the peppers and cook, turning occasionally, until nicely seared and blistered. You can add a touch of soy sauce to the pan if you like. Please keep your eyes closely on the pan so they do not burn. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, or sprinkle shichimi togarashi.
Serve them as a stand-alone appetizer or as a side to accompany your cold soba noodle salad, BBQ dishes, grilled fish, sushi meal, etc.
Where To Buy
You can find shishito peppers at Japanese/Asian grocery stores, supermarkets like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, and at your local farmer’s market. I hear that some readers have found them at major grocery stores.
You could substitute with similar peppers such as green bell peppers or padron peppers.
They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, B6, C, and K, folate, and potassium.
Recipes Using Shishito
- Yakitori-Style Grilled Vegetables 焼き野菜盛り合わせ
- Teppanyaki Recipe 鉄板焼き
- Blistered Shishito Peppers with Ginger Soy Sauce