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pleasant surprises

Recipe: sautéed shishito peppers

I ran around the house gathering my things. I was running late for a meeting in Boulder. Kaweah, who never feels my sense of urgency, sauntered out into the yard to do her doggy business, but really, Kaweah just wants to mosey about and sniff things. Plop. Something hit me on the head. Cold plop. I squinted and looked up. Dark clouds had been building overhead for a few hours and now was the answer to our collective rain dances. My face broke into a huge smile – I couldn’t help it. I called to Kaweah to stop sniffing the grasses and to come inside for her treat. As I drove down the canyon, the rain increased from spitting to pitter patter to real rain. Never have I squealed with this magnitude of joy and gratitude at the rain coming down around me. Passing drivers coming up the canyon seemed to be smiling too.

But it petered out as I neared the entrance to Sugarloaf Canyon where a police car was stationed to block access to the evacuated zone… to the fire zone. Come on, rain!

Jason and I stood under the tent of the Boulder Farmer’s Market discussing logistics about our upcoming shoot while watching big drops of rain randomly splatter the rest of the market.

“I told Josh that you snore like a [expletive] and that I refuse to share a room with you.”


“He said that’s cool, because he’s a big snorer too.”

“Nice!” Jason rubbed his hands together, “It’s going to be a race to see who falls asleep first!”

By the time I drove up to where I buy Kaweah’s dog food (yeah, we’ve moved her to Senior food now) it was pouring rain. POURING! But just because it was coming down in Boulder didn’t mean it was raining on the fire. Still, any little bit helped and I hoped that the clouds over the foothills to the west were rain clouds and not just smoke clouds. [The wonderful crews fighting the fire have it 10% contained as of this morning. The community in and around Boulder has opened its heart and arms wide open to those affected by the fire. Truly inspiring and amazing.] And thanks to all of you who have sent your sweet messages. xo

the bouquet of sunflowers i bought at the farmer’s market

Not long after the Food and Light workshop ended, I received several dozens of emails inquiring about the next workshop. One of those emails asked if there would be another workshop by September (um, no…) and if not, what I would recommend for a trip to Boulder for someone’s birthday. I get a lot of questions about things to do and places to eat for folks visiting Boulder, so I cranked out a quick reply with several suggestions. That email exchange that began in July evolved and materialized into a birthday surprise yesterday evening.

a meal at frasca is not complete without their excellent wines

Rich planned a dinner at Frasca for his wife Kelly’s birthday – and he graciously invited us to join them as a surprise! Kelly is the photo editor of Fine Cooking – my hands down favorite magazine. How could I possibly say no? We arrived with the bouquet of flowers, which Frasca’s staff kindly whisked away, trimmed, arranged in a vase, and placed on our table. The service was flawless (as always), the wine bright and crisp, and the food… oh the food.

pacific hiramasa crudo, finger lime, lavash, cilantro

robiola and soft ricotta tortelloni, garlic brodo, porcini mushroom conserva

pan-seared red snapper with sweet corn ragú and baby carrots

Isn’t that lovely? Let me tell you, I was so excited when one of those finger lime vesicles popped in my mouth. Citrus caviar is what it is. Suddenly, life became even more beautiful and I have a new obsession. The word that surfaces in my brain when I think of savory dishes at Frasca is “perfection”. Textures, flavors, temperatures, colors, aromas. Our hosts thoroughly enjoyed their plates as well, which in some small way makes me proud of Boulder because I’m never ashamed to recommend this fine town to others. Rich and Kelly are utterly charming and delightful people – a fun, witty, and handsome couple (you’d never guess her age, she looks incredible). So if you will recall my rant about not caring if I have readers or not, the truth is that I don’t. However, I cannot deny that I have met some truly wonderful people thanks in no small part to the interwebs, and that includes Rich and Kelly. Happy birthday, Kelly! Thank you both for making us a part of your special day.

Now before I head to the airport, I’ve had something on my mind…

shishito peppers

Ever since Tea and I indulged in that lovely Padrón pizza at Delancey in Seattle last week, my mind has been on those peppers. Peppers are funny beasts. Some varieties are always mild, some are always insanely hot, and some are hit and miss. Hatch green chiles can even have hot bites within a single pepper. I’ve found shishito peppers to be mostly mild and occasionally – wow! Espicy! Note: there has been some confusion in my head… I always thought shishitos were the same as padróns, but they are not! Sorry ’bout that.

a quick rinse

My aunt in New Mexico first introduced me to shishito peppers. They were handing out samples at her local farmer’s market in Los Alamos and she was hooked. Of course, she bought a bag right before seeing me to let me try them and then I was hooked! I see them from time to time in the Asian market in Denver.

simple sauté in oil and salt

They are ridiculously easy to prepare and even easier to consume. I think I may have seen these as an appetizer on a sushi menu once, but I can’t recall now. Thankfully, I have located my source and after having enjoyed the padróns on a pizza, I’m sure that will be the fate of the next batch of shishito peppers I procure. If you are a pepper person, I highly recommend you give these little shishito peppers a try. In a sauté, on a pizza, or perhaps grilled (I’m willing to grill anything once).

so pretty – just pop one in your mouth

mostly hollow inside

Sautéed Shishito Peppers
[print recipe]

1 lb. shishito peppers or substitute with padróns, rinsed
2 tbsps vegetable oil (something without a pronounced flavor like corn or canola)
salt to taste

In a large, wide frying pan or sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat for a minute or two. Add the peppers and sauté until the peppers begin to soften and cook around the edges. You want a few “burnt” spots here and there. Season with salt. Stir the peppers about to cook evenly. When the peppers have wilted, remove from heat and serve.

26 nibbles at “pleasant surprises”

  1. Kimberly says:

    Wow, I just had these at Matsuhisa in Aspen, and I’ve been craving them ever since. They are so addicting! Have you found a place that carries them in Boulder?

  2. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Hooray for rain! I was just praying that lightning didn’t accompany it.

    Jealous of your meal at Frasca–I only get there about once a year. Love that Bobby Stuckey but our wine bill is always more than the food because it’s so good!

  3. Megan says:

    Oh, rain! I have my fingers crossed that it keeps raining, and helps out the situation with the fires. (I’m Australian, so I’ve seen what they can do, and my heart instinctively jumps to my throat when I think about it.)

    The food from Frasca looks amazing… and something about that last photo has me totally craving baby carrots. Yummm!

  4. Jane M says:

    Oh Rain Rain – I’m thinking of doing a rain dance here in NJ where we live. Everything is parched/dried out/ and not lush at all. The acorns and hickory nuts started falling in ernest around Mid August. Does this mean a rough winter ahead or just an old wives tale? Whatever- hope you get more sweet rain and blow it EAST towards us!

  5. joudie's Mood Food says:

    Oh wow these look sooooooo amazing. I am loveing this. Where can i get this from….. I am going on a hunt. I love your blog! So creative and beautiful.

  6. Nancy says:

    I’m so glad the fire is starting to become contained! I wish it would downpour over the whole fire area! You all are in our thoughts!

  7. Wei-Wei says:

    Hmm, if you remove the seeds it won’t be as spicy, would it? And congratulations. I’m so glad that the Man up there has decided to save you with rain! ;)

  8. Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks says:

    Thanks for the tip on the shishito peppers. I’ll be on the lookout and maybe even planting next gardening season.

  9. Andrea Meyers says:

    I’m so glad that you got some rain! You’ve been on our minds. As for the peppers, we’re always looking for something new to try in the garden. I could never seem to get my hands on padron pepper seeds, maybe I’ll find some shishito seeds?

  10. Ruth Ann says:

    Wow, you guys really eat well in Boulder! I am salivating here. Beautiful photos as usual.
    Very glad for the rain.

  11. Nan says:

    Starbuck said it best: Rrrraaaaaiiiiinnnn!

    What a lovelyl meal and the finger lime is intriguing! Great photos!

  12. recipejoe says:

    I am 81 years young and eat mostly everything ,but since moving to central Florida
    so many things that are not here. So no need for me to look for them.

  13. Denise says:

    Jen, great post. I love FRASCA! I had one of the best meals of my life there, some 5 years ago. Not only is the food delicious but also the staff. I am so intrigued to have some finger lime, now!! :)

  14. Rita says:

    Thank you so much for this post! About five years ago I was in Mallorca, Spain biking around the island. One day we rented a car and drove to the most remote restaurant situated below some cliffs. I had the most amazing peppers when I was there and I still think about them to this day, wondering what kind of peppers they were. Well, now I think I know, because they looked exactly like what you just cooked up. So thank you, and now I just hope I’ll be able to find them somewhere in New York.

  15. KJill says:

    When we lived in Japan a few years ago we got them grilled on sticks in yakatori places. We called them Russian Roulette peppers – usually so sweet and mild but it always seemed that in every batch there was one – wow oww! Loved your post on the Hatch green chiles. Just moved to Las Cruces and I am learning that the folks down here are quite specific on what varietals of Hatch chiles they like as there can be a wide range in the heat.

  16. Amy says:

    Nobu has them as appetizers. They say that 1 in 10 will be hot. They used to grill them but now they saute them, we prefer them grilled.

  17. renee says:

    These are amazing peppers! I had my first ones this summer. Found them at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market. I might have to grow them next year!

  18. kellypea says:

    Sounds like you’ve got tons going on! I thought I was in the know on chilis living within spitting distance of the Mexican border, but I have no clue about either of these chilis. The meal at Frasca sounds divine and I’m adding Boulder to our list of places to visit in our empty nest state of delirium. Taking notes…. :)

  19. Alyson says:

    Oh man, those peppers look addictive!

  20. barbara says:

    What a nice surprise….and I’ve never come across a restaurant that put a diner’s flowers in a vase. I think that is an incredibly thoughtful gesture.

    Aren’t finger limes just the best. I love them and despite them being a local plant, they are really hard to find here. I’ve only ever found them at the Tambourine markets, in the Gold Coast hinterland region.

  21. LimeCake says:

    i’m incredibly new to the vast varieties of peppers. are these spicy at all? they look awesome!

  22. Aimee Greeblemonkey says:

    I really should NOT come by here late at night when I am hungry!

  23. Cooking Gallery says:

    I always admire your photography skills and the mouthwatering foods you make!

  24. Pei Lin says:

    WOW! I associate these peppers with the chilies we use a lot of here except yours are much prettier! And it is cool how you can just simply stir-fry them!

  25. jenyu says:

    Kimberly – actually, I haven’t. However, I haven’t looked around here either. You can get them at H Mart in Denver (Aurora). I did see a ton at the Queen Anne farmer’s market in Seattle too :)

    Wei-Wei – these peppers are super mild in general. Just the occasional one that is spicy. Removing the seeds would be tough indeed. They’re little peppers.

    Denise – I wonder if you guys can find them in CA? I think they might be trying to grow them there. Mmmmmm!

    kellypea – email me before you come to Boulder. I’ll have a big list of things for you to do :)

    Barbara – Frasca is a class act, for sure. I can’t believe you can’t find finger limes easily in Oz?! Such a shame. LOVE those things. They are delightful (and now I’m a little obsessed).

    LimeCake – as folks have commented, a small percentage are spicy, but most are mild and lovely.

    Pei Lin – I don’t know if they are the same as the chilies you have there. These are really mild, not spicy. Nice to snack on!

  26. Nate @ House of Annie says:

    I have seen Shishito pepper plants for sale at the Santa Clara County Master Gardener’s Spring Market, held in April in San Jose. Not sure if they’re selling the Shishito peppers themselves at the farmer’s markets, though I know for sure that you can find Padron peppers.

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