A couple months ago, I was at a friend’s house enjoying grilled shishito peppers for the first time. Charred and extra salty, the peppers had just a slight heat and were the perfect, poppable side to burgers.
Ever since then, I’ve wanted to remake that side but have yet to come across shishito peppers in the wild (and by wild, I mean the three city grocery stores within walking distance to my kitchen). Luckily, I did stumble upon the most opportune recipe video recently—Kristen Miglore (from Food52) recreating Michele Hume’s shishito-style green bell peppers. Kristen included this recipe in her aptly named “Genius Recipes” column, and she delivered!
Two days after watching the video, I was determined to try it out. Shishito peppers may not be abundant in Somerville, MA, but green bell peppers are—no matter how scarce the red, orange, and yellow pepper bins may be, there always seems to be plenty of the bell peppers that I don’t want.
You may think that’s me being a classic picky eater, but this isn’t like when I used to check the colors of M&Ms before I’d eat them as a kid.* Green bell peppers actually do have a different (inferior) taste than their other colorful siblings.
So the promise of not only mimicking grilled shishito peppers easily and inexpensively but also transforming a vegetable I avoid to one I’d enjoy enticed me. Off to the store I went to fill my cart with just one green pepper (gotta make sure I actually like it first!).
You may be asking: how can green bell peppers taste so different in just a few short minutes on the stove (and why am I writing a blog post about bell peppers)? It’s all about the secret ingredient: shichimi togarashi!
Shichimi togarashi is a Japanese spice blend consisting of a few dried chilis, orange peel, sesame seeds, ginger, and nori (that’s dried seaweed, folks!). It’s spicy, but in a “my mouth feels warm” way, not an “ow, my tongue and insides hurt” way. And since I’m writing a food blog about a Japanese ingredient, I’m contractually required to point out its ~UMAMI~.
But, really, the salty, savory, and slightly spicy blend turned out to be just what the pepper doctor (Dr. Pepper?) ordered to turn otherwise-meh green bell peppers into the shishitos of my dreams. I gobbled up the whole pepper and forced a slice down my boyfriend’s throat to receive his seal of approval to make them again in the future (seal received).
And after last week (hi, nutritional yeast), it’s such a relief to have a full shaker of a seasoning that I’m actually excited to try again! I look forward to shaking this onto steak with fresh ginger, soy sauce, and honey and into the accompanying brown rice for an extra kick. And, obviously, I’ll be buying more green peppers soon (maybe even more than one at a time).
If you’ve got more ways to use shichimi togarashi, let me know in the comments below or on Instagram at @thepickyeaterchronicles! If you’ve got more ways to use green bell peppers, keep them to yourself. 🙂
**Important note: I always ate every color M&M. I just wanted to make sure the fellas at Mars weren’t changing up the scheme on me. This practice was particularly difficult in dark movie theaters, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t try.