Long before we could buy them at retail produce outlets Chris was making blistered shishito peppers at The Stanley in Estes Park. Every week I’d pester him to get some to go at the end of the day so we could share them at home and enjoy a beer. Fast forward five years and we can now get Shishitōgarashi (the Japanese name) year round at Trader Joe’s. We often do and have come up with several finger licking dipping sauces and one omnipotent craft beer pairing.
For this post we recreated the original way Chris used to make shishito peppers. Tossed in a very hot pan, blistered, with a slight char, topped with lemon zest and served with a fresh made lemon garlic aioli dip (just like this one) and grill kissed lime halves covered with coarse salt. In that way squeezing the lime juice over the peppers releases a hint of burnt aromas and simultaneously salts and flavors them before they’re even dipped in the aioli.
The only thing we did differently was substitute Columbus hops salt for the red pepper flakes & kosher salt Chris used to use. The Columbus hop salt (it is easy to make your own) imparts very subtle earthy and citrusy aromas and even a touch of licorice. In a very minimal way, just enough to create interest and enrich the flavor experience.
Of course, we paired these tender bites of perfection with an IPA. Blistered shishito peppers and IPA have an incredible partnership going on. There is something about the citrus, spice and floral notes in the beer that echoes the faint bitterness of the charred sweet pepper flesh, the lemon zest, the lime juice interacting with the hop salt and that super fresh homemade aioli…
Let’s just say that shishitos know how to craft beer. Almost any style of American IPA goes well with these peppers. We haven’t had a poor pairing experience so far (probably because we choose our brews carefully:). Joking aside, the wonders of American hops are what makes the pairing work so well, so you can confidently pick a hoppy pale ale to drink instead.
Of course, there is the Russian roulette factor. One out of
eight ten (some people even say dozen) typically mellow and sweet shishitos would turn out to be mega spicy. In our experience it depends on the particular harvest. Or the law of large numbers – we just never eat several hundred peppers in one seating to fine tune our observations:).
All in all it’s been truly random for us. Sometimes we’d enjoy the entire quantity we prepared (20-25) and not get a single hot one. Other times we’d make some for company and of course the person who is trying blistered shishito peppers for the first time gets a super hot one right away, then another one and sometimes even a third one and is left with a completely wrong impression as to their merits.
Regardless, we love the juicy and tender Shishitōgarashi and their affinity for IPAs. Especially during summer time! And especially with Session IPAs.
Here is an idea – grow your own shishito peppers if you cannot find them where you live:)
- 6 oz shishito peppers
- 1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 lime halved
- hop infused salt (substitute for regular coarse salt)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 cloves garlic (grated or pressed)
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of salt
- Heat up the oil in a large pan over high heat.
- Toss the peppers in the pan and once they begin to blister move them around with tongues so they can blister all over.
- Once they begin to char transfer to a serving dish.
- Sprinkle with the lemon zest and a small pinch of salt.
- Slice the lime in half, grill the face of each half until charred (using a grilling pan is easiest) then dip into a plate with hop salt to cover with salt completely. Serve face up.
- To make the aioli:
- Using a mixer beat the yolks. Add the pressed garlic, salt, lemon juice and while continuing to mix slowly add the ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve the aioli as a dipping sauce next to the peppers and salt covered lime halves.
Shared on Mix It Up Monday