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(post, Deborah Madison)
After all our chatter and exchange about shishito peppers, with a nod or two to the hotter "pardrons", I got an e-mail from a new friend who wrote that he was introduced to shishito peppers in Korea. They came as an appetizer to the table in small porcelain dishes, along with a variety of other appetizers. "Be careful," were the cautionary words of his host, but all went well and he fell in love with these "browned and blistered" pepper. Sometime later he as invited to a banquet. Shishitos were offered he took a small one—the smallest one, in fact—and popped it in his mouth. "Hardly had to chew it, it was so tender. So it floated down with a sip of Chongha (Korean sake). Immediately the words came to me, 'Be careful.'" "I've had hot peppers before, but nothing like this. There was no water on the table. My contortions, frantic hand gestures, death and dying sounds only put the table into hysterics. They all KNEW the a little shishito had nailed the American." It took him a full 20 minutes to recover, but no lesson (what lesson?) was learned "I still pop them in my mouth like I have immortality in my pocket." Was it really a shishito, or another small, wrinkled pepper? I'd assumed my friend would know. But if they were shishitos, that's pretty sobering for all of us who blithely assure our friends at the table, "No, they're not hot. That's another pepper." Perhaps they can be, after all. By the way, I took a hint from my friend and fried my shishitos (from my own plants!) in sesame oil last night, then tossed them in toasted sesame seeds. Very good and good change from olive oil.