Prep time: 20 mins

Yield:  1 serving  (250 ml)

“When I was a kid, my parents used to order dishes with shishito peppers,” says Haruna Makino, executive chef of Grasshopper Restaurants. Unable to quite understand their draw at the time, the chef-to-be was informed by her ‘rents that the peppers were an acquired taste. Now a fully-grown adult, Makino has fallen in love with the peppers which, to her, deliver flavour and nostalgia in equal parts.

At Grasshopper — a mini plant-based resto empire — Makino is all about East Asian-inspired cuisine that is both healthy and comforting. Chef’s Spicy Shishito Pepper appetizer is a major menu draw at all three locations. Despite the moniker, shishito peppers — a mainstay of Japanese cuisine — offer little in terms of heat on the palate. Pairing the veg with a marriage between Korean and Japanese flavours — tangy miso meets spicy gochujang — has resulted in a dish that has truly resonated with customers.

To Makino, this dish is an ideal way to start a meal and attributes its popularity to a number of factors. “The garlic stimulates your appetite and it pairs well with drinks,” she notes. “It is also very easy to share — an important quality for an appetizer!

For the home chef, the app is an easy go-to whether you’re dining solo, making a meal à deux or hosting a larger gathering. “Just sauté the shishito peppers and cover them with the sauce,” Makino says. “So simple!” The bright colours will wow the guests visually while the snackability factor helps make the dish a memorable one.                   

Chef Makino notes that in addition to the peppers acting as an appetite stimulant, they offer plenty in terms of nutritional value. The peppers check off Vitamins C for antioxidants, Vitamin K for bone health and B6 for the wellbeing of the brain and nervous system. They also boast capsaicin which, arguably, reduces blood pressure and high cholesterol, carotene for the skin and the eyes, and potassium for just about everything. 

Here’s how to make chef Makino’s spicy peppers that pack a wallop both in terms of flavour and nutrition.

 Spicy Shishito Peppers

*This recipe features metric measurements for accuracy.

Vegetable or canola oil 

100g shishito peppers

30ml Garlic Gochujang miso sauce (see below)

Lemon wedge for garnish

Garlic Gochujang Miso Sauce:

70ml gochujang, Korean red chili paste

  (Use 60ml if you have a low tolerance for spice)

20ml miso soybean paste

  (Chef Makino uses Awase miso — a blend of white and red — but for added sweetness use strictly white miso.)

30ml ginger puree

45ml garlic puree

45ml sesame oil

30ml soy sauce

100ml mirin, Japanese rice wine

30ml sesame oil

45ml white sugar

Method for sauce

  1. Put all ingredients together in a bowl and mix well with a whisk.
  2. Keep refrigerated in a jar until ready to be used.

Method for peppers

  1. Heat up a sauté pan, add oil and shishito peppers.
  2. Sauté the peppers until they show grill marks.
  3. Turn off the heat, add 30ml of Garlic Gochujang Miso Sauce, and coat the shishito peppers with the sauce


Eggplants or mushrooms are also great matches for this dish. To prepare, chop them into bite size pieces, sauté with the shishito peppers, and add some Garlic Gochujang Miso Sauce. The sauce is good for 2-3 weeks, so you can always make it and keep it in your fridge. The sauce can also be used to top noodles or fried rice.