Shishito peppers: From hipster menus to your grill

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated PressJune 19, 2013 

Never had shishito peppers? You need to track them down. Right now.

First, a primer, then I'll explain why. Shishito peppers are small, thin Japanese peppers. They look a bit like a longer, thinner jalapeno. But the flavor is different. While jalapenos have thick flesh and an assertive heat most of us a familiar with, shishitos are thin skinned and generally sweeter than they are hot.

Except when they are not. For reasons that are debated online, one out of every dozen or so shishito peppers packs a punch.

During the past year or so, shishito peppers have become a darling of the restaurant scene. Nothing on the epic scale of ramps. And certainly nothing on the scale of the cupcake or slider.

Shishito peppers generally are served as a starter, often heaped in a bowl and munched. And the prep couldn't be easier. Seasonings can vary, though coarse salt is a must.

In addition to having a wonderfully addictive flavor, shishito peppers are perfect for summer. They generally are shared, making them perfect for a backyard barbecue. And because they cook quickly and require intense heat, they adapt perfectly to the grill.

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