Umami, salty, piquant, and pungent all at the same time; fire roasting adds a dimension of flavor to these mild green peppers that makes them out of this world.
The shishito pepper is a member of the Capsicum annum family originating in East Asia. They are for the most part mild although growing conditions impact the level of heat and sometimes one pepper in a batch will be hot while the others will remain mild and pleasantly piquant. Shishitos are typically eaten before they are mature so they retain their glossy green skin; changing from orange and lastly to red as they mature fully.
From a culinary perspective, shishitos are delicious when roasted, sautéed, or grilled. I’ve tried them raw and was only mildly impressed, but roast them and add a little sea salt to the mix and they are almost impossible to stop eating....until you hit a random hot one. Shishitos are popular in Japanese cuisine and are typically served as tempura or added to dishes like yakitori. They can typically be found in season, which is late summer to early fall, in International or Asian markets. If you can find them, I highly recommend giving them a try.
From a health perspective, like their chili relatives, Shishitos are rich in antioxidants, vitamins C, B-6, and A and a variety of minerals. Research suggests that these little peppers provide the benefits of capsicum without the heat of capsaicin (which is what makes peppers hot). Super interesting studies on the shishito pepper and a few other Japanese vegetables, found that a heated extract was highly beneficial in the destruction of tumors and as a free radical scavenger with particular success in the elimination of the Epstein-Barr virus. So, heating up these little peppers before you indulge is the way to go if you want to reap the benefits of all of their nutrient goodness.