Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Quick Pickled Shishitō Peppers

Around these Rick’s Picks parts, we love ourselves some Shishitō Peppers!  I go nuts for them each summer, putting all of our market associates on notice to “just buy them for me” whenever they’re seen at the market.  A summer season pepper, I was thrilled to see them make an appearance at the market last week to welcome Spring.  I couldn’t resist.  I’m glad I did, the next day they were all gone.
Pan seared with a little extra virgin olive oil in a hot cast iron until blistered and wilted, immediately sprinkled with kosher salt, and finished with a squirt of lemon is the way to go when preparing Shishitōs!!!  In fact, this was the only way I’d had them prepared, until I ran across this recipe in the Los Angeles Times online.  I was curious.

I “jujjed” the recipe a little by adding baby onions, garlic, red Fresno peppers, and a couple Meyer lemons.  All of which were welcomed flavor companions to the smoky-sweet Shishitō.  Shishitōs are the roulette of game of peppers.  Generally mild mannered, the numbers and experts vary, but it’s said that one in ten are actually spicy. 
I say, give or take.  (smile)

Quick pickles are made for immediate texture and flavor satisfaction rather than long term preservation purposes.  The saturation of the brine and seasonings into the vegetable (or fruit) are expedited.  As such, their essence may not be as concentrated as if they were preserved.   Still, the benefits of quick pickling are numerous.   
We encourage our customers to reuse leftover brines from our pickles to quick pickle everything from mushrooms, and pearl onions to carrots or zucchinis.

With minimal effort and experimentation, you can bring a boost of great flavor, texture, and extra veggies to any meal.  We enjoyed these Shishitōs alongside grilled skirt steak. 

Onward to warmer weather!

Quick Pickled Shishitō Peppers

          Inspired by The Los Angeles Times
          Yield 1 – ½ quarts of Pickles

The Method: The Ingredients: The Brine

12 oz. (1 bottle) rice vinegar
12 oz. water
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of mixed peppercorns
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
1 star anise
5 cardamom pods
2 cloves of garlic, peeled.
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of kosher salt

The Method: The Ingredients: The Vegetables

10 pearl onions
50 Shishitō peppers
6 red Fresno peppers
2 Serrano peppers (halved)

The Madness: The Assembly

In a medium pot, blanch the pearl onions in simmering water, about 45 seconds.  Drain the water, set onions aside to cool. The blanching of these tiny onions will make them much easier to peal.   

In the same pot, simmer the rice and balsamic vinegars, water, peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds, the star anise, cardamom pods, garlic cloves, sugar and kosher salt until fragrant, 5 minutes. Turn off and set aside to cool.
In a large heavy bottom skillet or cast iron pan, toast the Serrano halves, Shishitō and Fresno peppers for approximately 7 minutes, turning occasionally.  Allow the peppers to develop a light toast on them.

Peel the pearl onions.

In one or two nonreactive airtight containers (large enough to hold 1½ quarts of brine and vegetables) with covers, layer the toasted peppers, garlic cloves and pearl onions.  Pour the seasoned vinegar brine over the vegetables. Seal tightly and refrigerate.  Allow pickles to sit at least 4 hours to meld.  Make sure that the brine comes to room temperature before refrigerating. Pickles will keep refrigerated for 2 – 3 weeks.

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