Fushimi peppers (a.k.a. fushimi togarashi) are popular Japanese sweet peppers, perfect for frying. With their elongated, tapered shape – similar to a cayenne – fushimi look like they should carry some spiciness. But, in fact, they deliver little to no heat, making them very family-friendly. They are as delicious fresh as they are fried, so they can make an excellent bell pepper substitute on salads, sandwiches, and more.
Fushimi pepper fast facts
|Scoville heat units (SHU)||0|
|Median heat (SHU)||0|
|Jalapeño reference point||2,500 to 8,000 times milder|
|Size||5 to 6 inches, thin and tapered|
Where did these chilies originate?
Fushimi call Japan home, where they’ve been cultivated for hundreds of years. These sweet peppers are a traditional heirloom vegetable of Kyoto, one of 41 vegetables that have earned the label Kyo-yasai. This label denotes vegetables grown in the Kyoto region known to be richer in vitamins and minerals (among other health benefits) than other options. These are high-end vegetables typically only eaten in the home or upscale restaurants.
Fushimi are still primarily grown in this region, but they are gaining global popularity, mainly because of their delicious flavor, quick growing period, and high yields. Fushimi plants are ready to eat earlier in the summer than most chilies, and the plants are very prolific. Just two or three plants can keep you happily stocked with fushimi peppers all season long.
How hot are fushimi peppers?
Japan is not widely known for its hot peppers, and much of its cuisine is milder than what you find in other Asian countries. And that holds for this Kyoto staple. Fushimi are sweet peppers that typically carry zero heat. That said, there are some types of fushimi (like the Fushimikara) that pack a more moderate punch.
Compared to our jalapeño reference point, the common fushimi sweet pepper is infinitely milder. If the type does carry heat, it’s typically in line with the mildest possible jalapeño (2,500 Scoville heat units.)Comparing it to another popular Japanese pepper, the shishito (50 to 200 SHU), the fushimi is typically milder than even the little simmer you get from most shishito. But a fushimi type with more moderate heat could be up to 12 times hotter.
What do they look like?
They look a lot like cayennes, with an even more pronounced tapered shape. Fushimi grow up to six inches in length with a thin, tapered body. They age from green (when they are typically picked and eaten) to red. The peppers have very thin walls.
What do they taste like?
This is perhaps the best part of the fushimi. They are quite flavorful – sweet, almost fruity, even when they are in their young green form. It’s delicious, and that’s one of the big reasons this pepper is so popular raw.
What is a good fushimi pepper substitute?
The most common substitute you’ll come across is bell pepper, being another zero-heat sweet pepper. But there’s not a lot in common between these two. The bells walls are thicker, the shape completely different, and the flavor (when young) more grassy, bitter than sweet.
A better substitute would be the shishito pepper as they share a common ancestry, have comparable heat profiles, and can be used in very similar ways.
What are some good uses for this pepper?
The sweet flavor and no heat makes the fushimi a delicious pepper to eat raw. It’s excellent on sandwiches, salads, and in omelettes.
Though, the real magic of this pepper happens when it’s fried and blistered. This is a thin-walled pepper, making it an excellent option as a frying pepper. Blister them just as you would blistered shishitos; it really draws out the flavors of this pepper. You can serve blistered fushimi as an appetizer or side, or use them as you would when raw.
Where can you buy fushimi peppers?
These aren’t peppers you’ll find readily in produce sections at your local supermarket. You’ll likely need to grow fushimi peppers yourself to enjoy their incredible flavor. As mentioned, the plants grow fast and supply a lot of peppers on each. Fushimi make great container garden plants, as long as you get full sun in the area where placed. The plants grow to 24 inches high, so be sure to choose a container with plenty of room. You can buy fushimi pepper seeds online (Amazon), or they may be available at your local gardening center.