Ultimate Guide to Japanese Green Pepper: Cooking & Storage Tips

We’ve all stumbled upon a dish that instantly transports us to another place, and today, we’re diving into the vibrant world of Japanese green peppers. These aren’t your average bell peppers; they’re a smaller, sweeter variety known as Shishito peppers, often found adding a pop of flavor and color to Japanese cuisine.

In Japan, these peppers are a staple, celebrated for their mild heat and versatility. They can be blistered, grilled, or sautéed, making them a perfect addition to any meal that needs a slight kick. What’s fascinating is that about one in every ten peppers packs a spicy surprise, adding a fun twist to your dining experience.

Join us as we explore a simple yet delightful way to prepare these green gems. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a curious foodie, we promise this recipe will leave you wanting more of these flavorful peppers.


Gather your ingredients for a vibrant and flavorful journey with Japanese green peppers. This section lists everything you’ll need to prepare the peppers and the accompanying sauce.

For the Japanese Green Pepper

  • 200g (about 7 oz) Shishito peppers, whole
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon

For the Green Pepper Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Equipment Needed

Before we dive into the magic of cooking with Japanese green peppers, specifically the delightful Shishito peppers, let’s make sure we have all the necessary equipment on hand. This will ensure our cooking process is smooth, enjoyable, and yields the best results. Here’s what we’ll need:

  • Large Pan or Skillet: A large, preferably non-stick pan or cast-iron skillet is ideal for blistering the peppers evenly. The pan’s surface area allows the peppers to get that perfect char without overcrowding.
  • Tongs: To safely and effectively turn the peppers, ensuring they are evenly blistered on all sides. Tongs give you better control than a spatula in this case.
  • Grater or Zester: For adding that bright touch of fresh lemon zest. A fine grater or zester will do the job perfectly.
  • Small Bowl: You’ll need a small bowl to mix the soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and other seasoning ingredients. This mix will be our flavorful finishing touch on the peppers.
  • Mixing Spoon or Whisk: For combining the sauce ingredients in the small bowl. Whisking helps to emulsify the mixture for a consistent flavor.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Precision is key in cooking, especially when dealing with seasonings. Have your measuring cups and spoons ready to measure out ingredients like soy sauce, mirin, olive oil, and sesame oil.
  • Cutting Board and Knife: You’ll need these for any prep work, such as mincing the garlic and ginger. A sharp knife and stable cutting board make this task easier.

Preparation Steps

Now that we’ve gathered all the necessary equipment to cook our Shishito peppers, let’s dive into the preparation steps. First, we’ll make sure the peppers are properly washed and prepped, and then we’ll whip up a delicious sauce to complement their mild heat.

Washing and Cutting the Peppers

  1. Begin by thoroughly rinsing the Shishito peppers under cold running water. This step is crucial to remove any dirt or debris that might be clinging to the peppers.
  2. Pat the peppers dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels, ensuring they’re completely dry before cooking. Moisture on the peppers can cause oil to splatter when they’re being blistered.
  3. Lay the peppers on a cutting board. While it’s common to cook Shishito peppers whole, you can also slice off the stem end if preferred. However, we recommend leaving them whole to retain the juices and flavors during the cooking process.
  4. If you decide to cut them, use a sharp knife and make a clean cut across the top to remove the stem. Remember, the seeds are not overly hot, so there’s no need to remove them unless you prefer a milder taste.

Mixing the Green Pepper Sauce

  1. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of mirin (a sweet Japanese cooking wine), and a teaspoon of sesame oil. These ingredients will form the base of our sauce, giving it a tangy, umami-rich flavor profile that pairs perfectly with the mild heat of the Shishito peppers.
  2. Grate one clove of garlic and about an inch of fresh ginger using the grater. Adding these to the sauce will introduce a slight kick and depth of flavor that elevates the overall dish.
  3. Whisk the ingredients together until well combined. For a bit of sweetness, you can add a pinch of sugar to balance the saltiness of the soy sauce and the acidity of the mirin.
  4. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Depending on your preference, you may want to add more soy sauce for saltiness or mirin for sweetness.
  5. Set the sauce aside until the peppers are blistered and ready to be dressed. The sauce can also be used as a dipping sauce, offering a delightful contrast to the smoky, blistered peppers.

Following these steps, we’re now ready to cook our Shishito peppers, ensuring they turn out perfectly blistered and bursting with flavor.

Cooking Instructions

Now that we’ve prepped our Shishito peppers and whipped up a flavor-packed sauce, let’s get to the exciting part: cooking these delightful peppers to perfection.

Sautéing the Peppers

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. You’ll know it’s ready when a few drops of water sizzle and evaporate on contact.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet. Swirl to coat the pan evenly. We prefer vegetable oil for its high smoke point, ensuring our peppers blister beautifully without the oil burning.
  3. Carefully add the Shishito peppers to the skillet in a single layer. If your skillet isn’t large enough to accommodate all the peppers without crowding, work in batches. This step is crucial for even blistering.
  4. Let the peppers cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes or until they start to blister on one side. Use tongs to turn them occasionally, ensuring all sides blister and attain slight char marks. The entire process should take about 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Once blistered to your liking, transfer the peppers to a serving plate. They should be tender with charred spots, offering a sweet, slightly smoky flavor.

Dressing the Peppers with Sauce

  1. Reduce the heat to low. In the same skillet, pour the sauce we prepared earlier. It might sizzle a bit as it hits the warm pan, which is exactly what we want.
  2. Stir the sauce constantly for about 1 minute, allowing it to thicken slightly and become fragrant. The combination of garlic, ginger, and sesame in the sauce will infuse the air with enticing aromas.
  3. Return the blistered Shishito peppers to the skillet and toss them gently in the sauce. Ensure each pepper is evenly coated with the savory, tangy, and sweet mixture. This step will not only add flavor but also a beautiful glaze to the peppers.
  4. After about 2 minutes, when the peppers are warmed through and well-coated with the sauce, remove the skillet from heat.
  5. Serve the saucy Shishito peppers immediately. They are best enjoyed hot, with the sauce acting as both a marinade and dipping sauce, enhancing the peppers’ natural flavors.

Remember, the joy of cooking Shishito peppers lies in their simplicity and the surprise element of varying heat. Each bite is a delightful blend of sweet, mildly spicy, and umami notes, making them a versatile side dish or appetizer that pairs wonderfully with almost any meal.

Serving Suggestions

After you’ve cooked your Japanese green peppers to perfection, it’s time to think about how to serve them. Our garnish options and pairing ideas will elevate this dish to a delightful culinary experience.

Garnish Options

To add color, texture, and flavor complexity to your sautéed Shishito peppers, consider the following garnishes:

  • Sprinkle sesame seeds for a subtle nutty flavor and a bit of crunch.
  • Drizzle with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice for a zesty kick that complements the mild spiciness of the peppers.
  • Top with thinly sliced green onions or chives for a fresh, oniony bite.
  • Shavings of Parmesan or a light dusting of sea salt can enhance the umami and savory notes.
  • For a final touch of elegance, add a few edible flowers on top, which will make the dish Instagram-worthy while adding a slight peppery taste.


  • Grilled meats like chicken, pork, or beef benefit from the peppers’ smoky and mild heat, offering a contrast in textures.
  • Incorporate alongside sushi or sashimi platters for a refreshing, palate-cleansing element.
  • Pair with a creamy risotto or pasta dish, where the slight char of the peppers cuts through the richness.
  • For a vegetarian option, serve with a hearty grain bowl featuring quinoa, rice, or farro, adding depth to the meal.
  • Shishito peppers also go beautifully with a cold beer or a crisp white wine, enhancing the overall dining experience during a casual gathering or a sophisticated dinner party.

Make-Ahead and Storage Tips

Properly storing your sautéed Shishito peppers can extend their enjoyment well beyond the initial meal. Here’s how to keep them fresh and delicious.


After cooling the cooked Shishito peppers to room temperature, it’s best to transfer them into an airtight container. They will keep well in the refrigerator for up to three days. When you’re ready to enjoy them again, we recommend reheating them gently in a skillet over medium heat to help revive their texture. This process will ensure they retain their blistered exterior and tender inside without becoming soggy.


Freezing Shishito peppers is feasible, but it’s worth noting that their texture may change slightly upon thawing. To freeze, spread the cooled peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet, making sure they’re not touching. Freeze them for a couple of hours until solid. This step prevents the peppers from sticking together in the freezer. Once solid, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be stored in the freezer for up to two months. To use, thaw the peppers in the refrigerator overnight and reheat gently in a skillet. While the texture may be slightly softer, they will still be tasty and perfect for adding a flavorful boost to dishes.


We’ve explored the delightful world of Japanese green peppers, particularly the Shishito, and unveiled their secret to culinary greatness. From the initial preparation to the final touches of garnishing, we’ve shared everything you need to bring out their best flavors. Whether you’re pairing them with a hearty meal or enjoying them as a standalone snack, these peppers promise to add a mild kick and a burst of flavor to your dishes. Remember, with the right storage, you can savor their goodness well beyond the cooking day. So why not give them a try and see how they can transform your meals? Let’s keep experimenting in the kitchen and discovering new favorites together.

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