Santa Fe’s Other Little Pepper

New Mexico is known for their chili peppers. If you visit in the fall you will see ristras, or arrangements of drying chili pepper pods, hanging everywhere. These colorful ristras were available at the Santa Fe Farmers Market when I visited a week ago. But, this year I also learned that Santa Fe has another little chili pepper that has made quite a hit there.

The peppers are called Shishito. They are about two to three inches long with a wrinkled thin skin, and a sweet-hot taste. The ones I tasted straight from my friend’s garden (seeds included) were not HOT but my friend said that every once in a while you’d get one with a little kick. They were very tasty.

Saturday morning we headed down to the Santa Fe Farmers Market and while tasting my way through the local delicacies, I happened upon some freshly roasted Shishito. WOW, they were fantastic. They were stir-fried in olive oil with garlic until charred, then sprinkled with a little sea salt. You eat everything but the stem.

I was a little shocked by the price though. They were selling for $8. per lb. After thinking about what we went through harvesting my friend’s two small plants I realized that maybe that wasn’t such a high price. Harvesting them is a kin to harvesting Sweet 100 tomatoes. The peppers are small and there are lots of them hiding amongst the plants leaves.

When I got home from New Mexico I decided to poke around on the internet to see if I could find some seed for these little beauties and guess what, there is a seed company in nearby Oakland, CA, Kitazawa Seed Company. I’m thinking these would be great addition to my “mini” veggie garden.

If you get a chance to try these either at a restaurant, I hear they are great in tempura, or at a farmers market, give them a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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