Capsicum annuum | 150 days from sowing

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.

Shop Shishimai Seeds

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.

Explore Recipes

Growing Details

Germination

  • Transplanting required. Sow 1-2 seeds per cell into a 72-cell tray. Thin to one plant per cell after germination.
  • Sow seeds 1/4–1/2" deep and cover gently.
  • Maintain soil moisture (clear tray covers may be helpful). Dry-wet cycles and overwatering can create a crust-like soil layer and prevent germination.
  • Water as needed once first true leaves emerge; allow soil to dry between watering.

Transplanting

  • Check for readiness between 55–65 days after germination by gently pulling on the base of the stem to see if the roots hold the soil together.
  • Transplant to 12" spacing.
  • Plant deep: bury transplants up to first true leaves to support root growth.
  • Transplant shock: leaves may turn yellow after transplant but will return to normal after 10-14 days. 

Maintenance

  • Pruning: remove first 3–5 flowers to promote vegetative growth and encourage higher yeilds.
  • Avoid overwatering: can cause peppers to enter dormancy.
  • Cultivate to prevent weed growth and use best management practices for pests.

Harvest 

  • Harvest at 3–5” when deep green.
  • Continually harvest 2–3 times per week. Delayed harvest can prevent fruit set and decrease yields. 
  • Over-mature fruits will turn red and become spicy.
  • Grow your own

    Seeds are available for purchase from packets to bulk, with multiple maturities.

    Shop Shishimai seeds 
  • Growing details

    For more growing details, vist the blog posts on germination, growing and harvesting Saku Saku.

    Read more 
  • Cook with Shishimai

    For cooking information including recipes from the Culinary Institute of America, visit the blog.

    Find a recipe