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Sear shishito peppers for fusion snack

Featured on the front page of this week’s food section, shishito peppers have become a chef’s darling over the past decade. But they’re also in reach of the home cook, particularly when purchasing for farmers markets.

The recipe for shishitos with my latest column represents a duo of peppers, served with Spain’s classic romesco. Other cuisines, however, lay claim to shishitos, including Japanese where they first emerged. Indeed, dining at a Portland Japanese restaurant earlier this week, I had to try grilled shishitos wrapped in paper-thin pork belly.

Here’s a recipe that fuses Asian and Latin cuisines for a slightly irreverent snack that pairs the American staple Hidden Valley ranch and Japan’s indispensable furikake rice seasoning. It comes as no surprise that this was born in Hawaii from Sheldon Simeon, of Bravo’s “Top Chef” fame and author of “Cook Real Hawaii.”

Tribune News Service photo

Blistered Shishitos With Furikake Ranch and Crispy Quinoa

4 tablespoons neutral oil, divided

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Kosher salt

1 pound shishito peppers

Garlic salt, to taste

1/2 lemon, cut into wedges

3/4 cup ranch dressing (made from Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix)

3 tablespoons furikake, divided

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. When it's shimmering-hot, add the quinoa to pan and spread evenly. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown and crisp, for 5 to 15 minutes (depending on quinoa's moisture content; freshly cooked quinoa will take longer). Drain fried quinoa on paper towels and season with a pinch of kosher salt. Wipe pan clean.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pan and place over high heat. Once oil begins to smoke, add the shishitos. It's important that all peppers touch pan, so work in batches if necessary. Sear peppers on all sides, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister and slightly char, for about 4 minutes. Season to taste with the garlic salt and a squeeze of the lemon. Transfer to a plate and top with fried quinoa.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ranch with 2 tablespoons of the furikake. Serve it alongside shishitos. Sprinkle shishitos with remaining 1 tablespoon furikake before serving.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.