I imagine many chefs have a dish like this, one that begins as a hastily assembled staff meal and somehow morphs into one of the most popular things they’ve ever served in a restaurant. Oh wait, is it just me?
It began with shishito peppers blistered in a screaming hot pan, because who doesn’t love shishitos? I took some cooked quinoa that was on the line and threw it in the fryer until it turned nutty and crunchy. I mixed some furikake and ranch together, because delicious plus delicious equals more delicious. The rest is history.
That dish first went on the menu at Migrant, which closed in 2016; people still request that I cook it for them to this day. But I’m fine with it, because it’s still a combination of tastes and textures that I crave. In fact, I made it for the construction guys who poured the cement patio at my house just the other week. Furikake ranch forever.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. When it’s shimmering-hot, add the quinoa to the pan and spread evenly. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown and crisp, 5 to 15 minutes (depending on the quinoa’s moisture content; freshly cooked quinoa will take longer). Drain the fried quinoa on paper towels and season with a pinch of kosher salt. Wipe the pan clean.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and place over high heat. Once the oil begins to smoke, add the shishitos. It’s important that all the peppers touch the pan, so work in batches if necessary. Sear the peppers on all sides, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister and slightly char, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with garlic salt and a squeeze of lemon. Transfer to a plate and top with the fried quinoa.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ranch with 2 tablespoons of the furikake. Serve it alongside the shishitos. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon furikake before serving.
- In a dry pan or skillet, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes, stirring often. (If your seeds are sold roasted, skip this step.) Transfer to a small bowl and let cool completely.
- If the nori sheets are not crisp enough to crumble easily, carefully toast them by waving them over a gas flame or placing under a broiler for a few seconds.
- In a food processor, combine the sesame seeds, nori, bonito flakes, sugar, and salt. Pulse 8 to 10 times or until mixture is well blended. Store in a sealable container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month.
Reprinted with permission from Cook Real Hawai’i by Sheldon Simeon and Garrett Snyder, copyright © 2021. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography copyright: Kevin J. Miyazaki © 2021