Smoky, bright, blistered shishito peppers have long been an izakaya staple and the thing everyone can agree on ordering. But shishitos can be pricey and hard to find, especially out of season. This brilliant, quick-cooking stand-in—the humble green bell pepper—is neither, and will quickly become your new go-to speedy green side.
As Michele writes in The Noodle Soup Oracle, “Green bell peppers, snipped off the vine before ripening into red or yellow sweetness, get the least love of all the bell peppers. It’s true that they can be mushy and bitter, but only if cooked too low and slow. The key is a screaming-hot, well-oiled wok and just enough time in it that the skin blackens and blisters. Prepared this way, green pepper wedges remind me of stemless, seedless shishitos. In this recipe, a flicker of heat from the shichimi togarashi and a shower of flaky salt drive the comparison home.”
A few tips: If you’re missing any of these seasonings, please don’t worry about it. Any vinegar or lemon juice will work. Red chile flakes, maybe lightly crushed, instead of the shichimi togarashi will, too. And if you don’t have the sesame oil, just leave it out.
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Core and seed the green peppers, and remove the ribs, but don’t worry about being too meticulous (if you like some extra crunch, you can even leave some seeds clinging). Slice the peppers lengthwise into 1-inch/2.5-cm-wide strips, mimicking the shape of a shishito pepper.
Heat a wok or large, heavy cast-iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat until a droplet of water hisses and evaporates on contact. Add the oil, and swirl it around until the pan is evenly coated. Add the peppers and a generous sprinkling of salt and cook, tossing occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the skin of the peppers is blistered and the flesh is just soft.
About 30 seconds before the peppers are done, stir in the rice vinegar and sesame oil. Remove the pan from the heat, add shichimi togarashi to taste, and sprinkle liberally with flaky sea salt.