Five minute appetizer that makes you feel like you are eating out!

I was at the farmers market yesterday and saw some Shishito peppers. I always love having these when I go to a Japanese restaurant. It is such a great way to start a meal. It is the food “aperitif” to waken the palate! When you look at these peppers you expect them to be hot. Although they can be they are usually sweet. The guy at the market tells me that it is usually one out of ten that is hot and the rest are sweet. A game of pepper roulette!

I tossed them in a little sesame oil, peanut oil and a little salt. I wanted to be sure of a little pain so I broke up a chile arbol (chile flakes) over them as well. I roasted them at 400 with convection for ten minutes. I took them out and hit them with a half cup of Ponzu. I love this stuff. It is the best of all the Japanese favorites in one (soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), and citrus. It is a great way to go when you want quick flavor but are tired of plain soy sauce. The residual heat in the pan along with a few flicks of the wrist to toss it in allows the sauce to reduce and coat the peppers with a nice sheen.

You take a bite and you expect such a punch of heat due to the small size (usually a guarantee of pain with chiles) but you get a sweet, slightly bitter taste that wakes up your mouth. My chile flakes followed up as requested and gave me a nice blast of heat. The Ponzu’s slightly thickened glaze on the chiles gave them an almost creamy, salty aftertaste that makes you reach for another. The thin skin and delicate flesh of these chiles make them so easy to eat. They are like the potato chips of the appetizer world. You can’t eat just one. My wife and I finished them off in no time with a glass of Beaujolais. It is true, red wine does not work with spice! The fruit in the wine fell back and the mild tannins of the Beaujolais became abrasive. It took a few more sips to bring back the tropical punch beauty of the Beaujolais. These are the problems I want to have in life! On to the next course!
Eat well, enjoy life, be happy.