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Manganji chile peppers are elongated, curved to straight pods, averaging 12 to 15 centimeters in length and 3 to 5 centimeters in diameter, and have a slender, conical shape that tapers to a point on the non-stem end. The pods also bear slightly bunched wrinkles on the stem end, and the skin is smooth, glossy, and soft, ripening from green to orange-red when mature. Underneath thick skin, the flesh is crisp, aromatic, and pale green to red, depending on maturity, encasing a central cavity filled with a few round and flat, cream-colored seeds. Manganji chile peppers have a bright, sweet, and earthy flavor.
Manganji chile peppers are available in the summer through fall.
Manganji chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are a sweet, Japanese variety that belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Also known as Manganji Togarashi in Japan, the long, green peppers are a regional specialty of Kyoto, Japan, and have a uniquely sweet, earthy flavor. Prized as a traditional pepper, Manganji chile peppers are highly valued in Kyoto and Tokyo but are relatively rare outside of Japan. The peppers are predominately utilized when young and green and are prepared in simple preparations to showcase the sweet and savory flavors.
Manganji chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can help promote collagen growth and boost the immune system. The peppers also contain fiber, vitamins B9 and B6, phytochemicals, and flavonoids, which can help purify the blood.
Manganji chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as frying, braising, grilling, baking, and roasting. The peppers are often roasted and topped with bonito flakes, sautéed and tossed with a combination of fish sauce and soy sauce, battered with tempura and fried whole, skewered for traditional Japanese yakitori, or blistered in oil and served with a light sprinkling of sea salt. In Kyoto, Manganji chile peppers are famously used in sweet recipes and pair well with chocolate. One chef in Kyoto pickles Manganji chile peppers in soy sauce and salt and freeze-dries them. The peppers are then mixed with almond praline and added to 55% cacao chocolate, creating a balance of both bitter and tart tastes to create an unusual chocolate bar. Another chef in central Japan boils chopped Manganji chile peppers to extract the juice and makes candies from it. In addition to cooked applications, Manganji chile peppers can be pickled in a salty brine for extended use as a condiment. Manganji chile peppers pair well with meats such as pork, beef, and poultry, soy sauce, grated ginger, bonito flakes, shiitake mushrooms, daikon radish, tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, and shiso leaves. The fresh peppers will keep up to one week when stored whole and unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Known as the “King of Japanese chile peppers,” Manganji chile peppers are recognized as a prized cultural vegetable in the Kyoto prefecture of Japan. Kyoto-grown vegetables are called kyo yasai or dento yasai and have been traditionally grown for hundreds of years. There are forty-one different vegetables designated as kyo yasai, including Manganji chile peppers and mizuna, kamo eggplant, and a long, green onion called kujo negi. The peppers were named for the Manganji Temple in Maizuru City in northern Kyoto, and the ancient temple is part of the Nichiren sect of Japanese Buddhism, first established in the late 8th century during the Heian period.
Manganji chile peppers are native to Maizuru, which is a city in the Kyoto prefecture of Japan and was created in the 1920s by Japanese growers. Believed to be a cross between a fushimi togarashi and a California wonder bell pepper variety, Manganji chile peppers are descendants of original pepper varieties that were introduced from Central and South America by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century. Today Manganji chile peppers are still widely cultivated and grown in Japan and are also available through online seed catalogs for home garden use in Asia, Europe, and the United States.
Recipes that include Manganji Peppers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Kyoyasai Kyoto||Manganji Sweet Pepper Kinpira|
|Kyoyasai Kyoto||Deep-Fried Manganji Chillis Stuffed with Minced Meat|
|Food Sake Tokyo||Kyoto Yasai - Manganji Togarashi|
|NHK World Japan||Manganji Peppers with Miso Chirimenjako|