Shishi means “lion” and Mai means “dance”. Shishimai is a festive dance performed in lion costumes at celebrations and festivals during the New Year. The performing lion “bites” children to ward off bad luck, improve academics, and bring good health.
This pepper is bright and bite-sized, not spicy in taste but distinctly peppery. It is harvested green (before turning red) for peak flavor. Shishimai is the first Shishito variety with added L3 disease resistance against tobamoviruses.
Why shishi? The two split ends of the pepper resemble a lion with its mouth open.
Cooking with Shishimai
Shishimai are best suited for light cooking methods like grilling, sauteing, roasting, and frying. The pepper’s skin blisters easily, giving it a beautiful char when grilled. Try them seared in a cast iron skillet with sesame oil and finished with a squeeze of lemon and sea salt for a savory and satisfying starter dish.
Safety Tip: Poke holes when frying to prevent the peppers from exploding.