Myra's Kitchen Blog  

Culinary Roulette Peppers
Friday, July 19, 2013

The first time I tried a shishito pepper, I thought that they were unbearably hot. I didn’t know at the time that only about one in ten is hot, while the rest are mild and flavorful. This experience kept me away from these delicious peppers for a good couple of years, until I was seduced by the gorgeous overflowing bins at the Union Square greenmarket. Fortunately, I finally gave them another try, and have been happily eating them ever since. Not only do  shishito peppers abound right now, there are another two varieties similar enough that they can be treated the same way. Here’s the rundown on the different types:

There’s the shishito pepper, which are very aromatic. They have little ridges.

Shishito Peppers

Shishito Peppers

A pepper that competes with the shishitos is the Fushimi pepper. They have an even crispier skin and texture. You can eat these raw as well as cooked.

Fushimi Pepper

Fushimi Pepper

Another squatter horn-shaped pepper with similar characteristics is the Pimento de Padrón, the heirloom variety from Spain.

Pimento de Padrón

Pimento de Padrón

All of the peppers have a lot of health benefits: high levels of vitamin A and C and carotenoids like lutein, which is helpful for maintaing healthy hair and skin, as well as providing resistance to colds. These retain their vitamins when they are pickled as well.

My favorite way to cook all of these peppers is to toss them into a hot skillet that is filmed with oil and simply blister them. I then toss them with a course salt. Lately, I’ve been tossing them with lapsong souchong salt, so they have a delicious smokey tea flavor.

Blistered Peppers

Blistered Peppers

For more ideas on exciting salts, visit The Filling Station in Chelsea Market, where you can choose from a variety of flavored coarse salts.

All of these peppers make for an exciting game of culinary roulette. I like to serve these to guests sitting around the table and watch their faces as they eat them. Since most of the peppers are sweet and mild,  it’s a bit of a surprise when you get that one zinger in ten that is picante.   Proceed with caution, and take a small first bite!

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Photo: Tess Steinkolk

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