Shiso Fine

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by Kerri Conan 

There are a lot of things we could do with the purple shiso in our herb garden. My husband Sean and I have tried several: like marinate the leaves whole in a sesame-soy concoction, shred a few into salads and stir-fries, and scrunch several into a jar of carrot pickles. Other ideas we have yet to explore: shiso pesto, tempura, or tea. 

But we usually enjoy these sturdy leaves plain, to transport food from plate to mouth, as if you were eating with castanets. (Is this how shiso is often used in Japan? I’ve never been, but whenever the leaves are used to garnish my sushi, it never goes to waste.) 

Yes, shiso is super-tasty, but not too intense that the flavors overwhelm whatever you’re grabbing with it. Each bite rambles a gamut ranging from mint to cloves, only muted by the thick—and sometimes fuzzy—texture of the leaves. So when you pinch a small mound of sushi-style rice and baton of stir-fried spicy tofu or chicken, it still makes sense to dip the miniature taco in wasabi sauce. Somehow the spectrum expands as you chew, leaving behind a yummy echo long after you swallow. If I sound addicted, I am.

Posted in Farming, Produce

5 Comments

  1. ducksoup said...

    Thanks for the article, Kerri (and Mark). Shiso is one of my favorite things in the world! This is the first I’m hearing of the purple variety, but how are you growing just the leaves (or am I misinterpreting the photo)? It was my understanding that shiso are the leaves of the beefsteak tomato only. Are you growing the purple variety as leaves alone? If so, where, oh where, can I get a plant or seeds?!

  2. burp_excuzme said...

    My mom uses these to make kimchi. I LOVE them! And we use them to wrap bulgogi and rice. :-)

  3. Anonymous said...

    Shiso is sometimes called the Beefsteak plant, but it is completely unrelated to tomatoes, beefsteak or otherwise. It’s related to basil and mint. In Japanese cooking it’s commonly used as a garnish or as a "wrapper," and is frequently paired with umeboshi plums. It definitely pairs better with salty flavors that with sweet. I have a ton of green shiso that I’m trying to find uses for outside of traditional Japanese cuisine.

  4. ducksoup said...

    I was woefully misinformed! Thank you for setting me straight. Can it be grown indoors after the summer?

  5. xenotees said...

    Shiso Mojitos!

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