My return to New York seems to have been plagued by a rough patch in the recipe department. While the gazpacho was a surprise first-time success and the grilled plums an easy, satisfying treat, the rest of our meals have been marked by a litany of culinary mistakes. Not mistakes of the “not-what-I-intended-but-maybe-even-better” kind, but rather the “not-bad-enough-to-throw-out-but-not-exactly-enjoyable-to-eat-either” kind of mistakes. An attempted chickpea and potato fritter (another favorite Spain meal knock-off) turned into a sticky, seemingly unfryable (is that a word?) paste. It was salvaged after I topped it with some okra and the smoky paprika sauce I had intended for the fritters. Last night’s meal was meant to be poblanos stuffed with cornbread batter and baked into a somewhat tamale-meets-chiles-rellenos type deal. This eventually — and perhaps inevitably — turned into a hash (more often than not, I rename my mistakes to “hash” during the attempted salvaging stage, which usually involves some deconstruction and a little sauteeing) after I realized, an hour into baking, that the batter inside was still entirely uncooked. There were several other “oops” moments in there as well, but I’ll spare you all the gory details.
I guess we’ve all had our bad weeks. When mine hit, I usually seek out simplicity. Working in the kitchen can be an extremely calming, even therapeutic, experience. Yet sometimes, it’s easy to forget that. Between the multi-floured baked goods and the endless substitution brainstorming, the simple, naturally gluten-free meals can get lost in the shuffle. And often, they’re the best ones.
These shishito peppers take simple to the extreme. Gennaro and I actually enjoyed a quite simiar dish at one of the highly-acclaimed, celebrity-endorsed tapas restuarants we went to in Spain. Just a plate of peppers, slightly charred on the outside and wilted to a perfect texture, then sprinkled with salt. Between the labor-intensive patatas bravas and the multi-ingredient salad topped with fish roe (I know, one of my aforementioned fish transgressions), the peppers dish was one of our favorites. Back in New York, just a few days later, I noticed these beautiful, bright green shishito peppers were abundant at one stand at the Greenmarket. The girl behind the counter was cooking some up herself. I immediately brought a bag home and did the same. They were the perfect snack. And they were perfect on the first try. With all of three ingredients. Go figure.
Some tips: These shishito peppers work best when there’s not too much going on in the pan. That’s why I wrote this recipe in 1/4 lb. increments. But I have a feeling you’ll want more than that, so buy a lot and make this in batches. Also, I eat the stems, and I believe this is the norm. I could be wrong, but I’m still alive. For those unfamiliar with shishito peppers, they are ever-so-slightly sweet and not hot, though you may get a very mildly hot one in there every once-in-awhile. The bigger ones tend to have more heat, if any.
1/4 pound shishito peppers
1 teaspoon good olive oil
Course grain sea salt for sprinkling
Heat skillet (non-stick is good here) with olive oil. Add peppers and saute — about 3-5 minutes — until peppers begin to pop and blister. Stir occassionally. Remove to a plate and sprinkle peppers with sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.