Every once and a while there comes along an article in a magazine or online that makes you stop and think and go hmmmmm....I could do that. But occasionally there comes an ingredient that is not part of your day to day pantry staples and you either have to figure out how to get it, how to fake it or in my mom's case, how to grow it.
Recently in Bon Appetit Magazine there was an article by one of my favorite food writers, Molly Wizenberg, that was all about "pan-fried peppers". She was in France and had these wonderful little fried peppers (in duck fat no less), but upon returning to the States could not find the exact peppers she had while overseas. She substitutes several different varieties and raved about how wonderful they were.
My mom is nothing if not committed to cooking. She will, like me, spend a day or more in the kitchen just to make one recipe that she found in a magazine for friends or family or just for her and my dad. She will order ingredients online that she may only use once a year for something and occasionally she will throw something in the ground for the sake of having it whenever she darn well pleases.
Enter the Shishito Peppers.
On average they are about 2-3" long, dark green and kind of wrinkly. They hide in the foliage of the plant, masquerading as leaves until you reach in and find there is a little weight in there. They grow pretty quickly too, once they are established, they average about 30 peppers a week on 6 little plants that are suitable for consumption.
After searching the grocery stores and farmers market with no luck, she headed to our local Green Thumb for plants and grabbed some for us and some for a friend. Only a few short weeks after planting them in and around our herb garden she was harvesting the first little peppers for a tasty hors d' oeuvre.
A quick fry in hot oil (or duck fat if you have it) and a sprinkle of salt and splash of lemon and you have an addictive little nibble with which to treat your guests. The chiles, when cooked, blister up in the pan and the flesh turns soft and silky. They have a little bit of bite and occassionally you will find one with some heat, but rarely. Adding the lemon juice or lemon salt (Thanks to my banquet chef Bobby for that addition to my kitchen!) brings out a little bit of sweetness in the peppers.
The chiles are on the right, the ones on the left are the sage fritters which can be found on this post An unexpected treat.
Enjoy if you can, I highly reccommend adding these little guys to your garden!