Blistered Shishito Peppers with Smoked Pimentón Aioli

Blistered Shishito Peppers with Smoked Pimentón Aioli

Have you ever had Shishito peppers? Better yet, have you ever even heard of them? Shishito peppers are the East Asian brothers-from-another-mother to Spanish Padrón peppers. They're small, light green peppers that turn an orangey-red as they ripen, they have a delicate, sweet flavor when compared to your standard green bell pepper (read: not bitter and gross) and they're usually pretty mild on a scale of 1 to melt-your-face-off. You can find Shishito peppers in the specialty produce section of a well-stocked grocery store like Whole Foods. Or, you can get them from your local farm stand or farmers market like I do. It's important to note that they're pricey if purchased from a larger grocery chain. And when I say pricey, I'm talking like, $3.99 for a 3-ounce container pricey. Luckily, the farm stand up the street from my house sells them for a ridiculously affordable price of $1.25/pound.

Now I'm sure you may be wondering what I meant earlier when I said that Shishitos are "usually mild." Well, here's where things get a bit interesting. Eating Shishito peppers has become known in our house as "Pepper Roulette." We've named it that, because roughly 1 out of every 10 Shishitos is spicy, so you never really know when one might sneak up and bite you. That being said, if you're someone who doesn't love spicy food, you should still give these a try. Even the "hot" ones aren't very spicy, and if you're pairing them with a rich and creamy dip like this Pimentón Aioli, you'll have plenty of opportunity to tone down the heat should a spicy one find its way onto your plate. Eating Shishitos is fun, too. Simply grab one by the stem, dunk it into the sauce, and bite the whole thing right off, seeds and all, leaving the stem behind. Trust me, these are going to be your new favorite snack.

Blistered Shishito Peppers with Smoked Pimentón Aioli

olive oil
Shishito peppers
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise or vegan mayo substitute (I LOVE Sir Kensington's Fabanaise)
1 tsp bittersweet smoked Pimentón (Spanish paprika)
1 TB fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Directions
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan (about 1 tablespoon.) Add peppers in an even layer, being careful not to over-crowd the pan. Toss to coat with oil, season with salt, and continue to toss around the pan until browned and blistered on all sides, about 4 minutes. Repeat this process, working in batches, until all of the peppers are cooked. Be sure to wipe out the pan between each batch of peppers to avoid giving the subsequent batches that burnt-oil taste. Ain't nobody got time for burnt-oil!

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine mayo, paprika, and lemon juice. At this point you should taste the sauce to see if you want to add more of any of the ingredients. I tend to season aggressively, so I typically use more paprika and lemon juice than the recipe calls for. Start with these measurements and add from there to fit your taste. Season with salt, again to taste.

Serve peppers with dipping sauce on a nice big platter. These are great as a snack, or you can prepare a large batch for a party. I brought them to a Latin-themed pig roast over Labor Day weekend and everyone gobbled them up!

What are some of your favorite veggie-based snacks to make? Leave a comment down below!

Cheers! Alex

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