A pepper for every palate

Today at the market, Chef Ted Hopson is shopping for shishito peppers for a ssamjang beef tartare dish on the menu at The Bellwether. One in every 10 shishitos will pack some heat; you’ll never know which one's hot and which one's not until you take a bite.

The amazing variety of local produce available in California year-round makes us the envy of consumers and chefs everywhere. Take today’s pepper selection, for example: we’ve got fresh cayennes, Anaheims, Red Fresnos and shishitos, just to name a few. Since the heat in these peppers ranges from mild to fiery hot, there’s a pepper for every palate. In New York, Anaheim peppers are hard to find and can cost up to 10 times more than they do here in Santa Monica, and good luck finding fresh cayenne peppers in other parts of the country. So grab that reusable tote, head to your farmers’ market and take advantage of our rich selection of summertime peppers. Remember: the unassuming and smallest thin-skinned chiles will probably pack the most heat.

Chef Ted Hopson works an array of peppers into his dishes at The Bellwether in Studio City. One dish that showcases his passion for peppers is the ssamjang beef tartare. Chef Hopson slices Fresno chiles, fresh shishitos and bell peppers thin and garnishes them on top of raw beef and homemade Korean ssamjang paste. “As you eat it, you get the sweetness from the chiles, the vinegar from the pickled ones, some spiciness, some of the freshness and some of the crunch,” says Hopson. “It has everything you want: texture, flavor, heat.”

beef tartare
Ssamgang beef tartare (Photo courtesy of The Bellwether)