This is a classic Asian appetizer recipe, traditionally served in Japanese restaurants as an accompaniment to sushi. The peppers are impossible to find in local supermarkets here, but I’m told you can get them fresh at Trader Joe’s — my brother had the foresight to plant them in his garden this year and was nice enough to share. While the chilies are reputedly very mild, the rumor is that one-in-ten are mind-numbingly spicy — so proceed with caution if you’re planning on serving them to hapless guests. The recipe also traditionally calls for the Japanese Yuzu fruit, instead of a lemon or lime. If you can find one, use it.
10 fresh garden Japanese Shishito peppers
2 heaping tbs. Panko bread crumbs, toasted in a skillet over medium-low heat
1 fresh lime – cut into eighths
1 tbs. Sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. hot chili sambal paste
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
Dash of fresh lime juice
Rinse the peppers under cold water in colander. Pierce each with a toothpick and leave the stems on. Set aside. Preheat a cast-iron pan or wok over medium heat on a stovetop or outdoor charcoal grill.
Toast the Panko bread crumbs in a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat; about six to eight minutes, shaking often. Remove and transfer to a small serving bowl.
Prepare the dipping sauce ingredients and whisk together. Transfer to a small serving bowl.
When the skillet or wok is preheated, add the Shishito peppers and toss with about 1 tbs. sesame oil to coat. Spread them out and let them char slightly before turning. Turn and watch them so they don’t scorch. Total cooking time is roughly 10-12 minutes depending on the temperature of your grill or burner. Remove from the heat and add a dash of lime juice and Kosher salt. Stir and then sprinkle with the toasted Panko bread crumbs.
Serve with the soy dipping sauce.