Get to Know Shishitos

This tender, smoky pepper is a restaurant favorite — here’s how to use it at home.

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The good kind of summertime blister.

Shishito peppers are having a moment, and not just because they’re currently in season. In recent years, the vibrantly green and slightly smoky Japanese chiles — shaped a bit like wrinkled fingers — have become a late summer and early fall staple on restaurant menus across the country. It’s for good reason: they’re delicious, super snackable, and, despite their fancy appearance when blistered and sprinkled with flaky salt, incredibly easy to prepare.

Luckily for home cooks, more time in the restaurant spotlight has increased demand for shishitos at grocery stores and farmers’ markets alike. These days, you can find them anywhere top-notch produce is sold. Make shishitos part of your seasonal home cooking repertoire with these tips and tricks:

  1. Easy prep. Leave those ribs and seeds alone! Shishitos can be eaten whole, so all you have to do is cut off the stem — unless you serve them as finger food, where the stem can act as a nifty handle. Each pepper contains a lot of seeds (more than you might expect), but they’re totally edible and don’t need to be removed.
  2. Spice roulette. While most shishito peppers are mild, about 1 in 10 is spicy. The occasional hot one is the result of over-exposure to the sun. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re a thrill seeker) there are no visual cues for spiciness; while the peppers turn red as they ripen, that’s not indicative of flavor, so bite carefully!
  3. Char master. Shishitos are easy to sub in wherever you’d use mini sweets or other small, mild peppers in your cooking, but they shine brightest when given undisturbed time in the pan to char, drawing out their smoky flavor. Leave them whole or cut them crosswise into smaller pieces, then add to a pan with a bit of hot oil; cook for at least 2 to 3 minutes before stirring or adding any additional ingredients

Ready to get cooking? Try one of these recipes, featuring some of our favorite uses for shishito peppers, tonight.

As a smoky pop of color in a homey pasta dish:
Pork Ragu & Fresh Basil Fettucine with Shishito Peppers

As a playful side with a bright and punchy topping:
Spanish-Spiced Burgers with Charred Shishito Peppers & Lime Salt

As a play on the vegetarian pizza parlor classic:
Shishito Pepper & Onion Pizza with Creamy Tomato Sauce