How to creatively cook with shishito peppers

s small woven bowl of freshly picked bright green shishito peppers

When I planted a shishito pepper plant in our new vegetable garden, I must confess I hadn’t ever seen one or eaten one, which is why I bought it. The climate must agree with it and the advice I’d found on how to make it productive was correct. Pick them regularly for a ready supply, which we now have in abundance. So on to the next challenge – how to creatively cook with shishito peppers?

While shishito peppers are closely associated with East Asian, particularly Japanese cuisine, where shishito peppers are a popular bar snack. Cooked quickly over high heat until their skins blister and lightly char, this enhances their natural sweetness and adds a smoky flavour. The gentle heat creeps up on you, but doesn’t linger. A simple seasoning of sea salt allows the natural flavour to shine, but a squeeze of lemon and dash of soy sauce will add another dimension.

Creative ways to cook with shishito peppers

Having a steady supply of fresh shishito peppers has allowed me to experiment, be creative and work out many ways to add shishito peppers to recipes. I started with the classic blistered shishito peppers, but it turns out this flavour profile is perfect in many of my favourite recipes.

Blistered Shishito Peppers

a dark plate with blistered shishito peppers on a wood slat table

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add a thin layer of olive oil. Add a single layer of peppers and let them cook undisturbed for a few minutes until they start to blister. Then toss the peppers occasionally and cook until they are evenly blistered and slightly softened. You could also skewer your peppers and sear on a hibachi or barbecue.

Sprinkle with sea salt or add a squeeze of lemon and dash of soy sauce.

Shishito Pepper and Mango Salsa

Raw shishito peppers add a mild heat to the tangy flavours of this tropical salsa. Choose a just ripe mango and finely dice. Add to a bowl with diced red onions, fresh lime juice and zest, coriander leaves and slices of shishito peppers. Season to taste and serve with tortilla chips or a top these fish(less) tacos.

Shishito Pepper Pesto Pasta

Add a smoky heat to a plant-based pesto by adding blistered shishito peppers. Toss through your favourite pasta, top with roasted cherry tomatoes and maybe a little extra plant-based parmesan.

Smoky Shishito Pepper Hummus

Blend roasted shishito peppers through my sesame-free hummus (or your favourite hummus) for a smoky, slightly spicy kick.

Shishito Peppers and Beans on Toast

Sauté blistered shishito peppers work perfectly in place of chilli in the garnish for green beans on garlic toast and will also work well for the green bean pâte on crostini too.

Plant-based Paella with Shishito Peppers

A plant-based Paella can be made from so many different vegetables, I use my store cupboard paella as a base. The smoky hint of spice from the blistered shishito was a delicious addition to a paella in place of hot paprika.

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