I’ve been really snacky lately. The only foods that seem to appeal to me are easy, appetizer type snacks that pair well with cold beer or rose. It feels like summer has arrived so my subconscious gets pretty excited about happy hour each and every evening. It used to be a time when I’d meet with friends to share a few moments and a few bites, but until that can happen I’m just going to practice making epic snack boards and other tasty things so that when we can all hang out again, I’ll be ready!
One of the things I miss most about not being social, is not being able to frequent restaurants, especially Izakayas. Similar to an Irish pub or a tapas bar, they’re a casual Japanese bar that caters to the after-work crowd, serving alcoholic drinks and snacks. On the menu you are likely to find blistered shishito peppers, a divine combination of scorched, finger-sized green peppers that have been tossed in shichimi togarashi; a Japanese spicy blend made up of chili pepper, orange peel, sesame seeds, ginger, peppercorn, and seed weed. They're smokey and bright, with a little heat and a delightfully crisp texture. They are usually finished with some flaked salt, making them incredibly addictive and the perfect pairing for a cold beverage.
Shishito peppers can be pricey and tricky to get your hands on, though I've noticed that they are becoming more popular at the farmers’ markets! In lieu, why not use plain old green peppers!? I know, I know, green peppers don’t get a lot of love. Similar to cheaper cuts of meat, this cheaper capsicum simply needs to be handed differently in order to coax the goodness out. The key is the briefest of time in a screaming-hot pan, so the skin blackens and blisters.
These peppers are easily the tastiest thing I've eaten all week and I'm already looking forward to when I'll be able to have them again. If you'd like to see a video on how fast, easy, and versatile this recipe is, head over to Food 52. You might be able to find the shichimi togarashi at your local grocery store, I got mine at Farm Boy, they have their own blend. You could make your own, find in an asian supermarket, or order off of amazon.
Shishito-Style Green Peppers
2 medium green bell peppers
1 Tbsp neutral oil (canola or peanut)
1 tsp rice vinegar (sub other vinegar or lemon juice)
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Shichimi togarashi (sub crushed red chili flakes)
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Core and seed the green peppers, and remove the ribs, but don’t worry about being too meticulous (if you like some extra crunch, you can even leave some seeds clinging). Slice the peppers lengthwise into 1-inch/2.5-cm-wide strips, mimicking the shape of a shishito pepper.
Heat a wok or large, heavy cast-iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat until a droplet of water hisses and evaporates on contact. Add the oil, and swirl it around until the pan is evenly coated. Add the peppers and a generous sprinkling of salt and cook, tossing occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the skin of the peppers is blistered and the flesh is just soft.
About 30 seconds before the peppers are done, stir in the rice vinegar and sesame oil. Remove the pan from the heat, add shichimi togarashi to taste, and sprinkle liberally with flaky sea salt.