Recipe: Nikuzume Piman (Stuffed Peppers)

One of the many things I miss about Japan are the izakayas!  If you aren't familiar with them, they are basically a restaurant-bar.  You go for the beer or other drinks, and order lots of small dishes for the table to share (sort of Japan's version of tapas).  During my four years on the JET Program, we went to an izakaya every Friday night, if not more often.

Sometimes, if Bryn and I couldn't be bothered going out (or all the local izakayas were fully booked) we would just go to the store and buy all the ingredients to have our own izakaya at home.  In Japan that was easy, but here in the US it takes a little bit of creativity.

The other night we made a table full of izakaya-style dishes for our dinner.  Some definitely need some tweaking before I share the recipes, but one of the stand-out dishes of the night was the nikuzume piman, or stuffed peppers.  (In all honestly I can't remember ever eating them in Japan, but Bryn swore they were an izakaya staple, and he is way more versed in all things Japan than I am!)

Although they take a little bit of prep, they were super easy and REALLY tasty!  Here's what you need to make your own:
6 piman (a piman is pretty much a small green pepper.  We got a bag of mini bell peppers which worked perfectly, but you could use regular bell peppers as well.)
300 grams (~1/2 pound) ground turkey
Half an onion, minced
4 Tbs. panko (bread crumbs)
3 Tbs. milk
Half a clove of garlic (or quadruple it if you're a garlic lover!)
1/2 tsp. salt
a pinch of pepper
a pinch of flour
Drizzle of oil for cooking

For Glaze
2 Tbs ketchup
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs mirin (it's sort of a sweet Japanese cooking wine.  Even the regular stores here have it in the International foods section, but a fancy supermarket ought to sell it for sure!)

Mix your glaze ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Start by halving your peppers and cleaning out the seeds.  Set them aside, and mix all the other ingredients (except the oil) together in a bowl.  Using a spoon (or your fingers) fill each half of pepper with filling.

Now, preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Heat some oil in your frying pan (an oven-safe one will make your life way easier...but if you don't have one just get a casserole dish ready).  Place the peppers meat side down in the frying pan and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the meat browns on top.  Don't worry if they aren't cooked in the middle, they will finish cooking in the oven.

If you're using an oven safe pan, flip all your peppers meat side UP (if you're using a different dish, move the peppers over into the oven-safe dish).  Spoon the glaze evenly over all of the peppers and pop them into the hot oven until they are cooked through (8 minutes or so, but just slice one in half to check for doneness - it will take longer for bigger peppers.)

These would make a great appetizer or finger food for a party.  If you use big bell peppers, just add a side of rice and you've got yourself a dinner!  Feel free to substitute the ground turkey for any kind of ground meat (pork would probably be most traditional in Japan).


1 comment