Tempura Shishito Peppers with Soy Cilantro Dipping Sauce

I am obsessed with shishito peppers right now.  They seem to be popping up on menus everywhere and I've yet to have a preparation that wasn't to die for.  Shishito peppers are quite mild in the heat department, but are packed full of flavor, especially when blistered a bit.  I like to have a light little crunch on my peppers so I decided to try them in a tempura batter.

As important as finding good peppers, a delicious sauce is a MUST with these little babies.  I had them in Scottsdale a few months ago at Beau MacMillan's restaurant and he served them with a soy caramel sauce which was to die for.  {I know what you're thinking... if it has soy sauce in it, of course she loves it...  she might be better off renaming her blog Adventures with Soy Sauce...  and maybe someday I will}.  Anyway, I wanted to try to create that sauce as best I could and I have to say I totally nailed it!!  I kind of wanted to drizzle it on EVERYTHING in my kitchen once the peppers were gone.

If you can't find shishito peppers, by all means use bell peppers.  I happened to have one in the fridge I needed to use, so I fried it up too and it was ridiculously delicious.

Ingredients:

18-20 shishito peppers
1 cup Kikkoman tempura batter mix
3/4 cup cold water
vegetable oil, for frying

1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped green onions {stems only}

Directions:

Wash peppers completely, pat dry and set aside.

In a medium bowl, prepare tempura mix according to package directions, set the bowl into a larger bowl of ice water and set aside.

Pour oil into a large pot until it comes up the sides about 2 inches. Heat oil over medium high heat until it reaches a temperature of about 360 degrees.

Set up an assembly line starting with the peppers, then the batter, then the oil and then a plate lined with a paper towel.

Working in batches, dip each pepper into the tempura batter and then place into the hot oil.

Only cook about 4-5 peppers at a time, gently turning them with tongs so that both sides cook evenly and turn a nice golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer peppers to the paper towel lined plate, so that any extra oil is absorbed.

To make the sauce, combine soy sauce and honey in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat for about 4-5 minutes, until sauce is gently boiling. Stir in cilantro and green onions and cook for another minute or two.

Transfer sauce to a dipping bowl and serve alongside tempura peppers. Bon Appetit!

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