If you haven’t guessed by now, I was far from “cool” when I was a teenager. (I’m far from cool as an adult too but I embrace it now.) I wasn’t the gal with the coolest clothes or the best hair. And I was far from being as sophisticated as any of my peers. (Part of that was being a late bloomer…I’m still waiting to bloom obviously.)
I think I felt my coolest in my junior year of high school mostly because I had a friend, Tina. She was a year younger than me but she was funny, uninhibited AND cool!! She was great at putting on her make-up, flirting with the boys and she wasn’t afraid to break a rule here or there. (Looking back, she probably was a bit of a “naughty” influence but I take full responsibility for MY behavior and most importantly we didn’t do anything that bad.)
One of the best things about Tina was her taste in music. I was (and still am) a kind of easy listening kind of gal. I loved Harry Chapin, Dan Fogelberg and James Taylor. On occasion, I would rock out to Billy Joel and even was crazy enough to get a Joan Jett album once. (Okay, it was a birthday gift but it made me feel cool just owning it.)
Tina’s taste in music seemed revolutionary to me. It wasn’t anything I had heard from my older sisters so I really felt I was taking a walk on the wild side when I would share tapes with her. (Yes, we were still listening to cassette tapes.)
The people in her bands had colorful language, wore make-up and sported some crazy hair. (I just described almost every band in the 80’s.) Their music made me want to bobble my head and shake my fanny.
One of our favorite songs to sing together was “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes. We would ride in the car and sing it over and over at the top of our lungs. We even had some clever choreography to go with the lyrics. (Not that clever but we were teenagers and to us everything was clever.)
It is one of those songs that pulls a person in on the first notes and to this day makes me smile….and think of Tina.
This memory came up the other day when I was cooking with an ingredient that was new to my kitchen, Shishito peppers. Every recipe I read about these cute little Japanese peppers talked about blistering the pepper skin when it was cooked.
I placed my peppers in my hot pan and watched the vibrant green skin slowly bubble and char. Next thing I knew, I started to sing, “Blister in the Sun.” (Actually I changed the song to “Blister in the Pan.” Pretty catchy? Yep, I AM cool.)
As my peppers danced around the hot pan (I forgot to poke holes in them to release some of the steam so they sort of jumped liked they were in a mosh pit), I jumped and danced around my kitchen with the inhibition of a teenager. And like the song said, I went wild like a blister in the sun. (I’m sure this was the Violent Femmes meaning behind the song.)
Like a lot of friendships, Tina and I grew apart for no apparent reason; life happens that way sometimes. We’ve emailed a couple of times; she is a mom with her own teenagers now. I wonder if they think she is cool, I still do.
Blistered Shishito Peppers
4 cups shishito peppers (poke a whole in each one)
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup lime juice
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
Optional: ¼ tsp togarashi (Togarashi is a popular Japanese chili spice. It is usually in a very small, red bottle in the Asian section of the grocery store) or ¼ tsp ground red pepper
In a medium bowl, toss the peppers with the sesame oil and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, lime juice and vinegar. Set aside.
Over medium high heat (my stove was an 8), heat a cast iron pan. Let it get hot!
Add the peppers in batches and allow them to blister and char in the hot pan. Don’t crowd the peppers in your pan!!! You don’t want to steam them, you want to char them!
In a clean medium bowl, dress the peppers with a couple tablespoons of the soy sauce mixture. Reserve your extra sauce. (Toss with the chili pepper if you like spicy.)
I served mine with some of the extra sauce just for dipping.
Shishito peppers are AWESOME! To eat them, grab the stem, bite off the “meat” with your teeth and pitch the stems. You get a mild spiciness in some of the peppers but not all of them have that little kick. The charring adds a delightful bitter taste complimented by the nice salty soy and sweet pepper. It was like eating a snack food!
I love when new foods help me recall old memories. I guess in some ways my teenage years are like a shishito pepper…pretty mild most of the time with an occasional moment of spiciness.