Tiny peppers from Japan with little to no heat.
If you've ever eaten Tempura, a Japanese dish where seafood and vegetables are lightly battered and fried, you probably were served green pepper as one of the vegetables. In the U.S. the green peppers used are generally the standard green bell pepper that you can buy in any grocery store or farmers market.
In Japan, tempura is often made with a tiny green pepper called shishi-togarashi. The name, which means "lion pepper," is often abbreviated as shishi-to. It's a thin walled green pepper with a wrinkled skin measuring about 3 inches long. Generally shishi-to is a very mild pepper, but it is possible to get one with a bit more heat every now and then. That said, it's never really hot like a serrano or other chili pepper.
In Japan, shishi-to is eaten as part of tempura, used in yaki-tori (grilled chicken kabobs) or just fried without breading and served with a little salt. This is how I plan to eat them, but I think the shishi-to can be incorporated into any western recipe that calls for green bell pepper. It might make a particularly nice pepper for salads because its so small you don't need to cut it up. Alternatively, it might make be a good pickler because of its small size.
When I lived in Japan I ate shishi-to frequently, so I decided to try growing them in my garden this year. One grows shishi-to like any other pepper; just sow the seeds in the late spring and they mature in about 60 days. I grew mine in containers in my greenhouse and they produced large quantities of lovely little peppers.
I've always eaten shishi-to when they were green. Growing these for the first time, I got a pleasant surprise because I discovered that when left to mature, shishi-to turn red like many other peppers. I tasted the mature red pepper and they don't differ much in flavor from the peppers in their immature green state. The red peppers are a bit more dry as one would expect with an older pepper.
If you want to grow shishi-to peppers in your garden next spring, you can order seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.