Recently, I ventured out for an evening of theatre with two old teaching friends and a new friend. (Actually, they are not old–just long-time friends. Those are very hard to come by and I’m grateful to count Carol, Carole and Michelle among my friends.)
We saw Qui Nguyen’s play Vietgone (now closed) at the South Coast Repertory. Before the show, we enjoyed a meal at Seasons 52 in South Coast Plaza and particularly enjoyed the blistered shishito pepper appetizer. It was a beautiful dish and great with drinks.
Our Seasons 52 waitress, Bambi (only kidding), assured us that only one in twelve shishito peppers is spicy hot. We didn’t find any hot ones in our serving and I haven’t found any really hot shishito peppers in my re-creations of the dish. So, if you are hot-pepper averse, don’t be afraid of trying (and sharing) this recipe.
Not being able to get that dish out of my mind, I went online and, much to my amazement, I found a recipe for the restaurant’s dish published by The Orlando Sentinel. Seasons 52 Blistered Shishito Peppers
Shishito peppers, by the way, are a bit difficult to find. From time to time I find them at the farmers market. This time, I found them at a reasonable price at Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s is a treasure.
Here is my adaptation of the recipe.
Recipe: Blistered Shishito Peppers (Serves 8)
3 cups whole shishito peppers
1/2 ear roasted corn kernels or 1/2 cup defrosted whole-kernel corn
2 ounces each, crumbled: feta and goat cheeses
2 pinches sumac (optional–I think you can find sumac at Trader Joe’s in the spice section)
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil (I used more)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 t. finely grated lemon zest
1 to 2 T. fresh lemon juice (I used 2)
1 t. Dijon mustard (I used French Maille)
Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
Cayenne Pepper and chopped tomatoes to garnish
To prepare the aioli, mince the garlic and mix with mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Mix peppers in olive oil. Add corn kernels and sumac (if using). Place in a baking pan and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes until the peppers begin to blister.
After 10 minutes, remove peppers and corn from oven, place in a pretty bowl. Spoon aioli on the peppers and sprinkle cheeses over the aioli-garnished peppers . To garnish, sprinkle cayenne pepper and chopped tomato on the dish.
Serve spooned onto small plates. No chips or bread need be served with this dish; just pick up the peppers by their stems. Be sure to get your share of the flavorful aioli and cheese, though.
Enjoy! (We did.)