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Tempura, salsa and more great ideas for shishito peppers, now in season

Tempura, salsa and more great ideas for shishito peppers, now in season
Shishito peppers for sale at the Santa Monica farmers market. (Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times)

What’s in season: Walk into almost any Japanese restaurant and shishito peppers are as much a staple on the menu as bowls of edamame. The Japanese peppers can be found year-round, though the growing season typically extends from summer to early fall. The peppers range from a vibrant green to deep red as they mature. Thin-skinned, the delicate, finger-length peppers are known for a mild sweetness offset with a gentle heat. Tame as they often are, every once in a while a pepper packs a jolt of heat, and tackling a plate can be quite an adventure.

What to cook: Dip the peppers in a light tempura batter and fry, serving the simple dish alongside a bowl of ponzu sauce. Chop the peppers to add flavor and a touch of heat to salads and salsas. Fold the peppers into frittatas or grilled-cheese sandwiches, or consider grilling them, then topping with a little soy sauce and bonito flakes, as part of an outdoor party menu.

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What’s on the horizon: Black Emerald, Thomcord and other varieties of grapes are beginning to show up at various markets.

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