Forget ‘Fruit Ninja.’ This is the new must-have killer app.
Photos by Leah Lizarondo
Hot or not? Remember that website? Gen-X, I’m talking to you. Before there was Facebook and before “viral” things were called “memes,” we had to fill our primitive digital lives with hampsterdance, Geocities, Yahoo! searches and the quiver of excitement whenever we heard, “You’ve got mail!”
And, oh em gee, USENET! The World Wide Web was a bizarre, confusing place. Web designers worldwide had adopted the philosophy of “the more animated GIFs, the better.”
Oy. Bury all those early-web memories along with my Glamour Shot.
Not that I’m old enough to remember any of these things. Ahem.
“Hot or Not?” is still a relevant question, especially in your kitchen. Now you can say, “There’s an app for that.” No, seriously, there’s an app. It’s called FoodieQuest. How soon until a “food porn addiction” becomes a real thing?
I digress. Shisito peppers and their lookalike, Padron peppers, always remind me of the classic “Hot or Not?” question. Eating a Padron pepper is like playing Russian roulette. One in 10 Padron peppers is hot. You can’t tell which one until you bite into them. It’s like: mild, mild, mild, meh, meh … POW!
I love the suspense. Shisito peppers, on the other hand, would measure a zero or one in Scoville units.
What’s that, you ask?
The Scoville is an organoleptic test (say that three times fast) that measures the heat or capsaicin content of peppers. Bell peppers would be a zero, and habaneros would be 200,000 SHUs. Jalapeños are in the measly 2,500-8,000 range.
On any given day, I will take hot peppers over mild. In fact, one of the very best dates I’ve ever had was a late-night at Blue Ribbon Bakery (NYC c. 2003, kitchen open ‘til 4 a.m.), where we ordered a dish of mixed hot peppers that were blistered and dressed simply with olive oil and salt. That appetizer included various peppers, such as Thai bird chilies — SHU 50,000 — and we ate all of it with great enthusiasm and with progressing mutual admiration as we popped peppers higher and higher on the Scoville scale. Add in a whole bottle of wine, and you’ve got a great night.
Alas, the dish we’re making today is not the kind with a kick. Shisito peppers are actually one of the very few sweet peppers I can say, without reservation, that I LOVE. In fact, I can’t think of any other sweet pepper that I love. So it’s really my one true, sweet love. (Bell pepper lovers, don’t hate me.) Shisito peppers (and Padrons for that matter) have a sweet, smoky flavor that comes out beautifully when you grill or fry them in a dry pan until they blister.
This dish is simply gorgeous to look at and a pure pleasure to eat. A simple plate of blistered peppers, dressed in olive oil and salt, finished with a hint of lemon and crunchy, salty almonds as the perfect foil. You can also add little dollops of Brazil-nut pâté when you really want to impress your guests. Or yourself.
Try it. Bet you can’t have just one.
Here’s the un-recipe:
Hot Blistered Shisito or Padron Peppers
- Shisito or Padron Peppers, washed
- Grapeseed oil
- Sea salt (coarse grind)
- Fresh black pepper
- Fresh lemons
- Extra virgin olive oil (the best kind you can get your hands on)
- Roasted almonds, sliced, slivered to roughly chopped
- Brazil-nut pâté (optional)
1. Heat a cast iron pan to very hot.
2. Spray very thinly with high-heat oil such as grapeseed.
3. Add peppers. Cook until they blister. Turn them so they blister all around.
4. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt, plus a little bit of freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
5. Spread on the plate with some roasted almonds and dollops of Brazil-nut pâté (optional).