These grilled shishito peppers with bonita flakes make the perfect crowd pleasing appetizer. They’re simply tossed in olive oil, seasoned with salt, and grilled to perfection.
With Labor Day coming up, I’m sharing a simple recipe that you would enjoy grilling, grilled shishito peppers with bonita flakes. I first tasted this dish at Kokoro when my friend Grace visited last summer. You can often find shishito peppers served as tapas at Japanese restaurants. I loved the flavors of gentle heat and charred taste from the shishito peppers complemented by the saltiness from the bonita flakes.
Shishito peppers: are the Japanese cousin to Spain’s famed Padron peppers. They are a bit skinnier and longer than the Padron. When it comes to taste, shishito peppers tend to be milder than Padron but one in a handful can be surprisingly spicy. It’s like playing Russian roulette because you never know when one of those peppers will be hot. Look for peppers that are bright green and firm. They peak from summer until fall but can be found in Asian grocery stores all year long.
Bonita flakes: also known as katsuobushi, are the dried, smoked shavings of skipjack tuna used in traditional Japanese cuisine to make dashi, a staple fish broth. They enhance the smoky, salty flavor of umami in dishes like okonomiyaki (savory pancake) and takoyaki (octopus-stuffed fried dough balls), or onigiri (stuffed rice balls). Bonito flakes are readily available in Asian grocery stores and online.
How to cook shishito peppers
Shishito peppers can be grilled, roasted in the oven on broil setting, or pan-fried. My favorite way is grilling them to get that delicious smoky taste. The best way to cook shishito peppers is fast at high heat. Cooking them quickly at high temperature results in a texture that is still fairly firm with all sides charred and blistered. Cooking them on low heat makes the peppers wilt and become soft before they develop the charred spots.
These grilled shishito peppers are best served minutes off the grill with a sprinkle of bonita flakes. The longer they sit, they’ll wilt and lose that crispy texture. There’s something about the interplay of crispy, charred, smoky peppers with salty bonita flakes that make these grilled shishito peppers so addicting. You can’t stop at just one!
Grilled shishito peppers with bonita flakes
- 1 pound shishito peppers
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 ounce bonita flakes (katsuobushi)
- Preheat the grill to the highest setting, about 500 degrees F.
- Place the peppers in a shallow baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat.
- Set the tray under the hot grill for 5 minutes until the skin of the peppers blisters, softens, and begins to char.
- Transfer the peppers to a serving platter, sprinkle with bonita flakes, and serve immediately.