Though this mild, sweet, and fresh pepper may register on the less intense end of the infamous Scoville scale, it is a pepper not to be ignored.
Currently primed for growth in foodservice and at retail, this bright, thin-walled, finger-long pepper is completely edible, including the seeds, and brings a touch of heat to the plate while still showcasing that popular pepper flavor.
But be ready for a surprise if you are a fan of these delicate treats. One out of every ten to twenty Shishito peppers will pack a bit more punch than its kin, but not enough to mirror anything close to the mild jalapeño heat. The pepper can also be bulbous at one end, resembling a lion’s head, hence the etymology of the name Shishito - a combination of two Japanese words: shishi for “lion” and tōgarashi for “chili pepper.”
According to Datassential, Shishito peppers turned out an impressive 38.3 percent annual growth and a 432.9 percent boost from 2010 to 2014. As the changing demographics of the consumer palate continue to evolve along with the popularity of peppers and ethnic cuisines, the Shishito pepper is sure to maintain its climb toward the top of the menu.
The Scoville Scale is a heat unit scale that measures the level of spiciness or pungency in chili peppers. Each pepper is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Measurements are made on a sensory basis, testing the amount of capsaicin (the chemical that produces the heat sensation) present when the chili is eaten.
Ever wonder why some peppers are hotter than others? The answer is capsaicin, the chemical in peppers that makes them spicy. The more capsaicin in a pepper, the hotter it is.