Knowing ChiliCult’s Varieties: Shishito
The Shishito(u) pepper is, as I just recently wrote, in a strange position.
As I want to start describing the varieties of ChiliCult, let me start with the Shishito pepper.
After all, what is Shishito anyways?
Shishito (or really, Shishitou with a long “o”, as far as I know) is a Japanese variety of chile pepper with no, or just rarely a little, pungency.
The pods are 2-3 inches long, about 1/2 inch wide, with lengthwise ridges and a typically pushed-in tip.
Their shape supposedly reminded imaginative growers of a lion’s head, and that’s what their name means: shishi = lion’s head, and the to(u) = tougarashi = chile pepper…
Unripe, they are light green before ripening via some darkening to a bright red color.
The whole fruit flesh is thin, the skin particularly so, making them very well-suited for their usual use.
The taste is mild but with a light and very nice, slightly bitter, paprika note; fried they gain some smokiness as well.
Traditional use of them is, of course, fried, similarly to Pimientos de Padrón. They are also rather similar to Pimientos de Padrón; quite possibly, the two share a common ancestor.
Shishito are fried in a pan with a bit of oil, or possibly over charcoal, until they develop some blistering. Then they are sprinkled with sea salt and served as appetizer or side dish.
The plants themselves grow to medium size, with medium branching, similar to many other Capsicum annuum.