One day while I was a chef in Majorca, Spain, we drove out to a little country restaurant near where we lived. Dried sausages hung on the walls; their aroma was beguiling mixed with the smell of hot peppers in the air. After ordering the peppers, we sat outside and awaited them. They arrived, blistered and slightly blackened, smaller than my finger. By hot, I don’t mean spicy, as they only had an occasional uncomfortable zing. I never found out their name, but think now they must have been padrone peppers. I don’t see them here in Charleston very often, but I do see their Japanese cousins, shishitos, occasionally in grocery stores but more frequently at farmers markets or country stores like Stono Market and Tomato Shed Cafe on Johns Island. The peppers are very similar in taste, and can easily be substituted for each other. They are best served right out of the pan, smoking hot, sprinkled with salt, but leftovers, if any, are nearly as good. — Nathalie Dupree
Makes 11/2 to 2 cups
2 tablespoons good olive oil
11/2 to 2 cups of shishito or padrone peppers
Heat the olive oil in an iron skillet or other heavy pan. Add the peppers, taking care not to crowd the pan. As they blister on one side, turn or shake to blister the next side. When all blistered, turn out on serving dish or serve right out of the pan, sprinkled with a flaky salt.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of 14 cookbooks, including the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through Nathaliedupree.com.