A few days ago, I asked if anyone knew what this was. The answer - a Japanese shishito pepper. Husband and I discovered these mild peppers last Spring while dining at Kihachi (last picture in the post), and immediately fell in love.
According to the Japanese Kitchen, these long little peppers (whose name means "Chinese Lion") were introduced into Japan by the Portuguese, and - hot at first - were gradually hybridized throughout the years to be a mild pepper suitable to the Japanese palate. The peppers are popular in the Spring and Summertime, when they are at their peak, and are typically fried in hot oil or broiled, as we had them at Kihachi. They can be purchased at Tensuke Market (1167 Old Henderson Road, Columbus (in the Kenny Shopping Center) 614.451.6002) throughout the summer.
Husband and I love to put them on the grill; they make a perky little snack before or with dinner, and are a nice foil to something rich such as steak. The peppers are mild with an intense capsicum (pepper) flavor which is occasionally hot. Simply throw them on the grill for a few minutes and sprinkle with salt. They also stand up pretty well to a tempura bath and fry. We like to skewer the peppers using 2 thin skewers, as pictured - a trick we learned watching Chef Kimura at Kihachi.