Flash-Fried Shishito Peppers

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Shishito peppers are probably my favorite tapa dish to date.  I was first introduced to them by my friend Rada, who suggested that we order them at Boqueria.  I loved all of the dishes we tried (highly recommend the patata bravas and Iberico ham, by the way) but the peppers were the most addicting, in a heart-stopping, can’t-get-enough-of way.  I’ve ordered them at other restaurants, and I actually prefer the way it’s made at Boqueria.  Very simple method of preparation, so that the flavors of the peppers are front and center.

Few weekends ago, I took a walk down to Carroll Gardens, expecting to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables from the Sunday farmer’s market, and was disappointed by the lack of bright, colorful produce.  There were plenty of meager potted herb plants and arugula leaves, but no sight of the rhubarb, which I looked forward to most.  Walking back, I poked in Union Market and saw that they had shishito peppers!  That was a wonderful surprise since I only knew they sell them at Eataly occasionally and I’d been looking everywhere else for them!

I picked up a pound of the peppers and boy was I glad I did that.  They make for a great appetizer and I’m pretty sure I’ll never grow tired of them.  If you’re feeling fancy, you can serve them with an assortment of finishing sea salts- or perhaps a dusting of shichimi for an extra kick- and pair them with drinks that go well with hot and spicy foods.  I made a whole plate and snacked on them in front of the television.  Better than popcorn, in my opinion.

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A fair warning should be given though.  Yes, they are mostly sweet and harmless, but once in three blue moons, you’ll encounter a fiery one with some serious heat going on.  I think that’s what makes them so much fun to eat, and totally worth the risks!

Make these.  Immediately, if not sooner.

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Flash-Fried Shishito Peppers
(Serves 4)

1 lb shishito peppers, stems intact, washed and dried thoroughly
2 tbsps corn oil
Sea salt

In a saute pan, heat oil over high heat. Gently add the peppers to the pan, turning them frequently, and cook until they are blistered on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes. Continue to cook the peppers in batches, allowing the oil to return to temperature each time. Remove and transfer from the pan onto paper towels to drain. Season with sea salt and serve warm.

*You can substitute corn oil with canola, sunflower, or safflower oil. Using olive oil might not be a good idea as its smoking point is relatively low, unless you’re using the high quality extra virgin olive oil.

*Make sure the peppers are dried completely because they can and will make the oil splatter. After rinsing and drying them with a kitchen towel, I left them on the counter to dry them out further (also to let them come to room temperature so that the oil temperature doesn’t drop as soon as the peppers hit the pan)

*Don’t overcook them; they should be blistered but still retain a bit of a crunch.

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