Shishimai (Capsicum annuum)
Shishimai is a lucky word chosen for promotion of our shishito pepper under the Oishii Nippon Project. Shishi means lion and Mai means dance. Shishimai is a festive dance performed in lion costumes at celebrations and festivals, and is especially seen at shrines and shopping malls during the New Year. The lion's mouth is designed to crunch and bite the head of a child to ward off bad luck, improve academic performance, and bring good health.
The pepper is bright and bite-sized, not spicy in taste, but a peppery flavor. It is harvested green before turning red for peak flavor and at one bite size perfect for snacking.
Why shishi/lion? The two split ends of the pepper resemble a lion with its mouth open. Bring a good luck in your body biting shishimai!
Shishimai is rich in capsaicin – a compound found in chili peppers known to stimulate blood circulation and boost metabolism. It is also high beta carotene as well as other antioxidants, potassium, and vitamins C, K, and B6.
Cooking with Shishimai
Different from other hot peppers, Shishimai is not spicy but has a refreshingly rich flavor which pairs perfectly with a cold beer. Shishimai’s slight sweetness makes them ideal for yakitori, tempura dishes, and grilled chicken skewers.
Shishimai are best suited for light cooking methods like grilling, sauteing, roasting, and frying. The pepper’s thin skin blisters easily, giving it a beautifully crispy 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: When frying, make a hole before cooking, otherwise the pepper may explode.