Your Cast Iron Pan Is Begging for Shishito Peppers

published Jun 25, 2015
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(Image credit: Rachel Joy Barehl)

If your cast iron skillet hasn’t met a shishito pepper yet, it’s time to make an introduction. The small, mild Japanese peppers make the ultimate hands-on snack. Shishito peppers have been trendy long enough to earn mainstay, summer-staple status. (I think they are just as worthy of our affection as tomatoes and zucchini.) They come to us completely ready to cook — absolutely no prep required. Every so often you will come across a spicy one, which makes them all the more fun to eat.

The best way to prepare shishitos isn’t fancy, just simple and delicious.

Toss them with oil in a hot cast-iron skillet until they char and blister into tender bites; this takes minutes. The only real work you have to do is to decide how to finish them. You can dress them simply in lemon and sea salt or smother them in a vinaigrette or sauce. I’m sharing five of my favorites, but you can come up with all sorts of creations to enjoy this summer.

How to Prepare Shishito Peppers in a Cast Iron Skillet

Heat 1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil in large heavy skillet over high heat. Add about 1/2 pound shishito peppers, stirring or flipping them until they are coated in oil. Continue to turn the peppers in the pan until they are tender, brown in spots, and begin to blister, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on their size. Choose one of my five ideas for finishing them or finish them any way you wish.

See step-by-step photos & instructions: How To Roast Shishito Peppers

(Image credit: Rachel Joy Barehl)

5 Delicious Ways to Finish Blistered Shishito Peppers

  1. Lemon and Flaked Sea Salt: Squeeze half a lemon over the peppers and immediately transfer them to a serving platter. Generously sprinkle the peppers with coarse or flaked sea salt. Serve the peppers immediately with lemon wedges.
  2. Crème Fraîche and Chives: Squeeze half a lemon over the peppers and toss the peppers. Immediately transfer the peppers to a large bowl. Toss them with a spoonful of crème fraîche (just enough to lightly coat the peppers), and a sprinkle of fresh chopped chives and flaked sea salt; serve immediately.
  3. Miso and Sesame Seeds: Whisk together 1 tablespoon miso (white or red) with 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or mirin). While the peppers are still in the hot pan, add the miso mixture to the pan and stir or toss to evenly coat the peppers. Immediately transfer the peppers to serving platter or a bowl. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. As a variation, add a couple teaspoons of minced ginger and/or a couple pinches of red pepper flakes when you first put the shishitos into the hot skillet, then proceed with the miso mixture once the peppers are tender and blistering.
  4. Summer Herbs and Lemon-Balsamic Vinaigrette: Whisk together the zest and juice of half a lemon, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, and a handful of chopped fresh herbs. (You can choose any one or a combination of fresh herbs.) As soon as you pull the blistered peppers from the skillet, toss them in enough vinaigrette to coat them. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt and serve immediately. As a variation, let a couple of smashed garlic cloves stand in the vinaigrette for about 15 minutes to impart garlic flavor. Remove the cloves before tossing the peppers with the vinaigrette.
  5. With a Dipping Sauce: Serve blistered shishitos with a dipping sauce or a duo of dips. You can whip together any of your favorites. Here are mine:

Cara’s Lime Sesame Peanut Sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Whisk in 1 tablespoon honey and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Add a tablespoon of warm water if your dipping sauce is too thick. Stir in a very thinly sliced thai chile or red pepper flakes if you wish.

Cara’s Maple-Chipotle Yogurt Dip

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup plain traditional or Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Use a microplane to grate 1 small garlic clove directly into the mixture. Stir in half of 1 chopped chipotle chile in adobo (removing some seeds if desired) and 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro. Adjust salt and add more chipotle chile to taste. Top with more chopped cilantro.

Alternatively, to blister shishito peppers on a grill, toss them with oil and place them in a grill basket (or on a grill pan) over medium-high heat. Grill the peppers, turning them frequently, until they soften and blister, about 3 to 5 minutes. Finish the peppers as you wish.

(Image credit: Rachel Joy Barehl)