Sweet Spicy Eggplant & Shishito

sweet spicy eggplant shishito
Japanese Eggplant & Shishito Peppers
Sweet Spicy Soy Glaze
Crispy Garlic & Chopped Peanut Topping
Chinese Chive Blossom Garnish

Back in August we had a most memorable meal at Wolfgang Puck’s Chinese Restaurant WP24. One of the many noteworthy side dishes was called “Hunan Spicy Eggplant, Roasted Shishito Peppers, Chili, Crisp Garlic.” Wanting to serve something similar at a recent dinner party but having no recipe, I decided to create my own interpretation of Wolfgang’s excellent side dish. It was a hit.

Sweet Spicy Eggplant & Shishito Recipe

sweet spicy eggplant and peppers
Cut about a pound of Japanese eggplant into large bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl and sprinkle generously with Kosher salt. Toss and let sit for one hour to draw out the moisture. Rinse three times with cool water to remove the salt. Shake off excess water.

Sauté eggplant in a small amount of peanut oil in a large pan over medium high-heat, tossing occasionally, until cooked, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile cook about a quarter pound of shishito peppers the same way in another pan until blistered. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

Add the Sweet Spicy Soy Glaze to the eggplant and stir to coat until the glaze become sticky, about one minute. Then gently toss in the shishito peppers.

Shishito Peppers are quite popular here; they are thin-walled and mild with just a whisper of heat. Every once in a while, though, you’ll come across a hot one!  This dish is so good, please don’t miss out if shishito peppers are not available by you. Green bell pepper would make a fine substitute.

Sweet Spicy Soy Glaze

sweet spicy soy glaze

  • 1 1/2 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 t. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. cornstarch
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Crispy Garlic & Chopped Peanut Topping

crisp garlic & peanut topping
Shave 5 large cloves of garlic into paper-thin pieces. Sauté in peanut oil, stirring, until light golden brown, about one minute. Drain on a paper towel, season with sea salt. Mix about the same amount of rough chopped peanuts with the garlic.

This golden garlic has a bitter taste which one would think could be off-putting, but in a curious way it actually enhances the dish. The lesson: don’t doubt Wolfgang. I add peanuts to mellow out the garlic and add a nutty crunchy note.

Chinese Chive Blossoms

Chinese Chive Blossom
I planted Chinese Chives, also known as garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), in my garden back in July. They are just now starting to send up those long shoots that blossom into dainty little clusters of flowers. Unlike common chives, the leaves are flat rather than round and taste more like garlic than onion. The tiny blossoms are also edible but don’t be fooled by their diminutive size and pale beauty, their taste is quite strong and garlicky as well.

eggplant and peppers, chinese side dish
To serve: transfer the eggplant shishito mix to a platter. Sprinkle with crispy garlic & chopped peanut topping. Garnish with a stalk of Chinese chive blossoms and separate a few individual flowers and scatter them about the dish.

Sweet & spicy yes, but also crispy, sticky, nutty, silky, garlicky, crunchy, salty, and even a little bitter (in a good way). Your guests will like this.

36 thoughts on “Sweet Spicy Eggplant & Shishito”

  1. Lori Lynn,
    I am in awe, I really am, your cooking talent and inventiveness are boundless!
    I love eggplant and those shishito peppers appear to be similar to peppers I only recently dined on in Venice. Unfortunately, I have never seen sweet peppers of that size here in Vienna.
    The sheer abundance and variety of vegetables in California is amazing.

    1. Merisi – you are always way to kind!
      Maybe you had Padron peppers? They would work just as well. Or try bell peppers and cut them into thick strips.
      I would love to be dining in Venice…

  2. This is wonderful. I just came back from the Asian grocery with a bunch of Japanese eggplants. I just love this variety! Can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing. You have a great blog, will be back for more 🙂

    1. Hi Cara – Wolfgang’s restaurant does just that, his goal is to serve Chinese food, not reinvent it, but to make every dish great, “up a notch.” It is great inspiration.

  3. My chive blossoms are gone and melrose peppers will stand in for your delicate ones and somehow – this will get made. I tend to shy away from eggplant recipes that are not Italian but your spin is so heightened with flavor – I must follow.

  4. What beautiful photos! I have garlic chives, given to me by my mother, and they are beautiful as well as tasty; and eggplants are one of my favorites. This post has really inspired me to try something different than the tradional “Eggplant Parmigiana” I usually whip up.

    Thank you!

  5. Lori, the imagery of this dish has me smitten! The flavors of every element sing to me. You must be singing with joy, too, from successfully recreating a dish inspired by a restaurant meal. Next time I’m in LA, I’m going to be looking up WP24 for sure as well as looking for Allium Tuberosum to plant next spring. Brava!

  6. I love making Chinese food at home and I think this would really be worth the effort! It looks delicious, and I especially like crispy garlic and peanut topping – love the addition of texture to the softer eggplant.

  7. Lori Lynn,

    This is simply stunning! Beautiful photos and so inspiring. I’m intrigued by that topping. Lovely touch with the peanuts and the bitter garlic sounds something together so different. What a plate!

  8. This looks absolutely delicious LL! I get heartburn from shishito so I don’t eat it, but my mom loves it and often cooks with eggplant (it wasn’t spicy). I just love the eggplant in this dish…looks so yummy after sucking up all the nice flavors.

  9. I just made this dish with eggplant and shishitos from my garden – absolutely delicious and easy to make. Thank you for publishing this recipe!

  10. Made this tonight with cubanelle peppers subbed for the shishitos and a big side of brown rice and it was incredible! Loved the peanuts — such a good combination of flavors. Thanks for the recipe!

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