Padrons on the Left, Shishitos on the Right
Smoky and spicier, especially as the season goes on. Melt-in-your-mouth texture. Excellent pan fried.
Smoky and milder with a hint of sweetness. Less spicy. Buttery, silky texture with slightly thicker skin. Great pan fried. Excellent for stuffing, sauteing & tempura.
Padron't Forget to Try the Shishitos
Understanding the Differences Between Our Very Similar Looking Peppers
Posted by Tent
We have recently been bringing baskets of shishito peppers to market that can be easily mistaken for Padron peppers. After careful visual inspection - and a few mix-ups at market - we've found the easiest way to tell the two apart are that the shishitos appear to have a brighter, more reflective surface and are a tad longer and twisty-tipped with more ridges.
As far as how they actually taste: one Sunday night not too long ago, a bunch of us marketers sat down, determined to get to the bottom of the shishito vs. Padron debate. We pit the Padrons against the shishitos in a no-holds-barred cooking-match - kind of like Iron Chef.
In the end, as much as we might have all been secretly rooting for the crowd-pleasing Padrons, the shishitos brought a great, unique flavor and a surprising change-up to the table. Once pan-fried, Padrons have a smoky-flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture that is pretty irresistible when topped with a little sea salt. We can rarely hold out long enough to add them to pizza or eggs and usually end up devouring the entire basket before they make it out of the pan. But as far as other cooking ventures - the shishitos ended up being just a tad more versatile.
Bring on the shishito. These peppers are also great pan-fried, and are just as easy to prep - but have a slightly sweeter flavor. Some of us said floral, some herbal, others said maybe a hint of citrus. However you describe it, shishitos possess a bright note to rival the padron's more earthy flavor and pair better with tamari, sesame or lemon since their less intense smoky flavor mingles well with others instead of competing with them.
In terms of texture, shishitos can also work a little less browned and blistered - their skin is a little thicker and silkier, and can hold up in sautes without compromising flavor. Additionally, they are preferable to Padrons for cheese-stuffing, baking and tempura. I tend to shy away from foods that cannot handle a deep-fry OR be stuffed with a healthy dose of dairy - shishitos are like my new jalapeño popper without the burn. These milder alternatives will be especially key later in the season, when the Padrons start to get a little spicy and you want to pan fry some peppers for people who aren't big on heat.
The culinary-battle-royale concluded a bit prematurely when we got too full from peppers. We hadn't really been able to decide on a winner, since they had both been so good in their own ways. But what we did all agree on that night was that gorging on delicious peppers - whichever variety they happened to be - immediately before going on the Giant Dipper roller coaster was maybe not the smartest idea. And that both types are amazing as easy late-night snacks or when combined with scrambled eggs for breakfast in the morning.
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