Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blistered Shishito Peppers with Smoked Sea Salt

I tend to grow chiles in the garden (or Earthbox, usually) that are too hot to eat a lot of. Trouble is, pepper plants produce a TON of chiles, so I toddle outside throughout the season and collect a Serrano (or habanero or jalapeno or black cobra chile) or two for whatever dish I'm making and the rest of the thousands of chiles I grow are destined to be harvested, frozen, and eventually turned into hot sauce. Bell peppers are just okay for me, and anchos are kind of huge to just eat.
A few years ago, I was at Wine Vault & Bistro in Mission Hills and the waitress recommended Shishitos, since they were in season and kind of a rarity.


No, they're not spicy. OK, it's a little like Russian Roulette- about one pepper in 50 is spicy- but that's fun, right?

These are my favorite fried finger food type thing ever. These beat out french fries, calamari, onion rings, jalapeno poppers and anything else you can think of in this terribly guilt inducing fried finger food category. And here's the best part- they're not NEARLY as bad for you as any of those. They're not breaded, they don't need to be dipped in anything. They're like a fry that doesn't need ketchup and isn't made of starch! They're healthier and actually taste better than the unhealthy alternatives you're used to. And they're waaaaay less labor intensive to make- in fact, they whip up in about 5 minutes. When does that ever happen? Never, that's when.

Handful of shishito peppers with stems left on (can be found readily in asian markets when in season)
2 Tbsp peanut oil
2 big pinches of finishing salt (whatever you like to use when you really want the salt to be special/not something you'd dissolve into food- I have an applewood smoked sea salt from Dean & Deluca that I love with these)

Heat the oil in a shallow saute pan until shimmering but not smoking.

Add the peppers (make sure they're dry or you'll have scary hot oil spattering everywhere) and give the pan a shake so they spread out.

Leave them alone for 30 seconds, then give them another shake. Leave them alone another 30 seconds, then use your tongs to check one. It should look like the skin is blistering/beginning to char a little. Once that happens, flip the peppers over and cook this way, shaking and flipping until they're nicely blistered. It should take no more than 5 minutes- you don't want them cooked all the way through to the point that they're completely floppy.

Remove from the pan onto paper towels and drain. Sprinkle well with salt, plate, then give them another hit of salt. Don't eat the stems, and try not to burn your mouth. :)

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