Washoku Wednesday: Shiso leaves


Courtney cooks up a tasty shiso salad in this month’s Washoku Wednesday column!

Shiso, or perilla, is an herb that is often used in Japanese cuisine but isn’t well known in the western world. There are two varieties, green and (red) purple, but the uses are very different. Green is added to dishes, salads and more. The purple is used for curing plums (ume) or to make purple shiso juice.

Green shiso adds a great freshness to sushi rolls. Our personal favorite is salmon, cucumber or avocado, and shiso. We have also had great success throwing it into lettuce wraps or Mexican inspired tortilla in place of other herbs. Or tear some up and add it to your favorite salad. It’s interesting to see how the shiso changes the flavors of a dish.

Red-purple shiso are not tasty when eaten raw. Its most popular use is to create umeboshi, or pickled plums – the red-purple shiso gives it its quintessential color.

In recent years, a new direction for shiso has involved incorporating it into fancy cocktails. I’ve sampled everything from shiso mojitos (shiso muddled instead of mint) to shiso juice shochu drinks. It’s a fun ingredient to play around with and see what you can create.

Ensalata Caprese with Shiso
This is a variant of the traditional Italian salad but swaps the basil for shiso.

Buffalo mozzarella
Tomatoes, chopped
Shiso, torn
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Depending on the mozzarella balls’ size, chop or leave whole. Chop tomatoes and add to mozzarella. Rip shiso leaves and place on top of the mozzarella and tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt (if you like). Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Other recipes:
Tsukune from Just One Cookbook
My daughter’s absolute favorite dish that includes shiso. If we are having something for dinner that she won’t like (i.e. too spicy), we’ll usually swing by a local grocery store and grab some tsukune for her to enjoy. But it’s so much better homemade!!

Shiso Pesto from Summer Tomato
I obviously have a preference for using shiso in Italian dishes (or maybe I view the flavors to be similar enough). We love pesto in our house and this is a quick and easy substitute to use up a lot of shiso!

Cucumber wrapped sushi from Just One Cookbook
I absolutely love Just One Cookbook (haven’t you noticed yet?!?) and this one was perfect. I mentioned above that adding shiso to your sushi rolls is delicious but I love Nami’s presentation of placing the sushi on a shiso leave. Perfect for dinner parties!

Sesame shiso wings from Food52
Food52 has been a fav of mine for innovative new ideas and cultural mash-ups. Here’s one that’s a winner….the intense flavor of sesame oil and the fresh flavors of shiso makes for some delicious wings!

Shiso juice from Washoku Guide
I’ll admit that I have yet to try shiso juice though I hear many of my Japanese friends swear by it. If you’re interested, give this recipe a go.

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