As far as day-to-day cooking goes, I eat fairly healthy. But the name of this blog is not healthy. It’s Genuss, or pleasure/enjoyment. For me, food is all about balance. Sometimes, it’s been a crappy day at work and all I need when I come home is a comforting bowl of pasta. Sometimes, I finish a good workout and all I want is a clean bowl of salad. Sometimes, it’s Saturday at 4 PM and I really want bar food.
I am a firm believer that basically all deep fried items need a dipping sauce. The only thing that makes a fried food better is a creamy sauce to cool it down. Last weekend, a friend of my Mom’s gave us a bag of shishito peppers from her garden. Naturally, my first thought was to dunk them in a beer batter and fry them up (Hey, you gotta live sometimes 😉 )!
Shishito peppers are like a fun little gamble because most of the time, they are sweet and not spicy at all. However, about one in ten shishitos has a spicy kick, and you can’t tell from looking at them which one it will be. Think of this dipping sauce as your insurance in case you bite into a hot pepper. If you like things really spicy, you could certainly do this recipe with jalapenos or other hot peppers of your choice!
I used to be so intimidated by frying food in my own house. Turns out, all you need is a good cast iron skillet! I let the oil get “nervous,” test it with a small drip of batter, and fry the peppers in small batches to avoid cooling down the oil. As soon as they come out of the pan, I place them on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet and salt them immediately. The salt sticks to the hot oil and perfectly seasons the peppers so each bite is properly seasoned.
These fried peppers are absolute snacking perfection. The batter is super light so you get an incredible crunch with each bite. As soon as the peppers hit the hot oil, you get that aroma of capsaicin that starts to make your mouth water. The creamy sauce contrasts the crunchy texture of the fried peppers. Wash it all down with a good beer, and you’ll feel like you’re at a swanky gastropub.
Beer-Battered Shishito Peppers with Southwestern Dipping Sauce
20 Shishito peppers
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cumin
1 bottle of amber beer (I used Yuengling)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling over the peppers
2 cups vegetable oil
For the southwestern dipping sauce–
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
juice of 1/2 of a lime
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Make your dipping sauce: Combine the sour cream, creme fraiche, garlic, cilantro, chile powder, salt, and lime juice in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, cumin, and 1/4 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the beer and stir until mostly smooth. The batter can be a little lumpy.
- In a medium cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over high heat (if you have a thermometer, 350 degrees would be good– I just look to see when the oil begins to shimmer).
- Fry the peppers in small batches, 4-5 at a time: dip each pepper in the batter, shake off the excess, and drop into the hot oil. Be careful, as it may splatter! Turn the heat down slightly if they are splattering too much.
- Fry each pepper until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Place the finished peppers on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet and season immediately with sea salt.
- Serve the peppers immediately alongside the dipping sauce.