During my recent trip to California, I did one of my favorite things, restaurant hopping with my son, Noah. Being a chef in Sacramento, Ca. and owner of Zoncas he knows many of the restaurant owners and definitely knows where to find the good eats. Among several places we sampled this time was a delightful vegetarian eatery called, Mother. One of their specialties is small plates so we simply put the menu aside and asked the chef to prepare us a sampling of several we could share. Our party of five was thrilled as the dishes began arriving. We had smoked cheddar biscuits smothered in honey butter, harissa potatoes. chili verde with roasted potatoes and my favorite, pan kissed shishito peppers. Usually a little goes a long way for me when eating within the family of Capsicum but I could not stop eating these little beauties. Shortly after my return, I began my market search. Checked all my usual haunts and nothing, so I went online and discovered they are carried at Trader Joes. The very next day I journeyed over there and eureka!
Shishito peppers are the Japanese cousin to Spain’s Padron peppers. Delicately sweet and usually mild they are simple to prepare and can be eaten as a snack, appetizer or as a side. I found this easy recipe for the grill and served them as an accompaniment to grilled shrimp.
Here is how it went down.
GRILLED SHISHITO PEPPERS Makes 4 servings
Recipe by Christine Gallary
½ lb. shishito peppers, washed and thoroughly dried
¼ t togarashi (Japanese seasoning containing chili powder)
Coarse sea salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon
- Heat an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high (about 375-425 degrees). Meanwhile, place peppers in a medium bowl, add the olive oil, and toss to coat; set aside.
- When the grill is ready, place peppers on the grill in a single layer, making sure they’re not touching; reserve the bowl they were in. Grill the peppers uncovered, turning them occasionally until they start to char and blister on all sides, about 6-8 minutes.
- Return the peppers to the bowl, toss immediately with the togarashi and salt. Serve warm.
Note: Togarashi can be found in Asian markets or the ethnic section of your grocery or if you wish, you can substitute crushed red pepper, cayenne or chili powder to taste.
At the restaurant they were simply tossed in olive oil, blistered and dressed with a bit of lemon. The grill gave them a nice smokiness and then hit with a small amount of heat from the togarashi and a sprinkling of Maldon to enhance their natural the flavor. Yum!
While addressing new discoveries I thought I would share a few things I recently found and am really liking. One is this ceramic grill pan. Able to take extremely high heat, you can place it directly on the hot grill or your stove top. With its generously high sides, it is great for grilling those little things that tend to roll around or that need to be stirred. Another advantage is it is dishwasher safe so easy to clean.
A television chef, known for his grilling expertise, recommended the use of “grill toppers” when your grilling anything that may fall through the grates. They are disposable but if washed can be used multiple times. I would recommend hand washing as they are a bit fragile. I used them for the peppers because I wanted the smoke to fully permeate. On TV he said they were available at any grocery but I did not find them at mine. I happened to run across them at Walgreen, on sale for $1.09 each in their seasonal aisle.
Last but certainly not least, Bees Wrap. A sustainable food storage wrap, it serves as an alternative to plastic wrap or bags. It is made with cloth and beeswax and can be washed and reused. You create a seal by warming it with your hands and then molding it over a bowl, loaf of bread, half lemon or cheese. The manufacturer does not recommend using it for meat. It is available from a variety of sources online or at specialty stores. Locally I found it at Willy Street Coop.
These little peppers and other discoveries made me happy and hopefully they will do the same for you. I love finding things that make my culinary world easier, more sustainable, and especially, more delicious. Whether your grilling, cooking over a camp fire or firing up the range, this season is the perfect time to keep it fresh, keep it local and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Hope eI provided you with some summertime inspiration to get grilling. Sending warm weather wishes and love your way, Jeanne