Several stalks of purple shiso grow on the Munchies Rooftop Garden but, ironically, I didn’t get my leaves from there. I came downstairs one morning and found them in a vase on the kitchen counter. A secret admirer? No. I wish. But a kind, loving gesture from dear ol’ Papa.
“I thought you could use them for your blog!” He said. He brought home 2 bushels from a co-worker’s garden. So kind. I love it when friends and family buy me food gifts (*cough cough* in case you were wondering). His co-worker’s favorite way to use it is in tea. Simply boil the leaves in water to extract their minty flavor. Then the cool part— add a few drops of lemon juice and watch the green tea turn bright pink right before your eyes!
Shiso, green or purple, is an herb similar in flavor to basil, mint, and anise. It adds a bright freshness to pretty much anything—pizza, rice bowls, eggs, you name it! I used it a gnocchi recipe I tested in the Munchies Test Kitchen.
But here’s the thing, it’s technically a weed. Meaning there’s often a lot of it. So if you find yourself with too much shiso, try some drink or pickle recipes that require 20 or more leaves. Larger leaves (almost the size of my hand) are great to use as lettuce wraps or serving plates!
Next time you see these in a garden or farmer’s market, grab a couple and see if shiso is a new herb you can get down with.
About: Purple shiso is often used in Japanese cuisine to dye pickled ginger and plums (umeboshi). The herb is popular for providing a brilliant fuchsia color to food and drinks, but also adds minty aroma to any dish. Technically a weed, shiso grows easily and in abundance, so I suggest preserving it in vinegar or drying it to be used throughout the year.
AKA: beefsteak plant • perilla • purple mint • sesame leaf
Origin: China • India • Southeast Asia
Plant: Perilla frutescens
Varieties: green • ruffled leaves
In Season: early spring through autumn
Fun Fact: Japan released a Shiso flavored Pepsi in 2009.
Nutrients: calcium • iron • vitamin C
Benefits: soothes headaches • helps treat respiratory aliments • alleviates nausea and vomiting
Substitutes: basil • thai basil • mint • peppermint
Store: Asian markets or farmer’s markets
Online: Baldor • Johnny Seeds (seeds) • Kitazaseed (seeds)
Selection: Choose leaves that are sturdy without tears or discoloration. The smaller the leaf, the better the flavor. Larger leaves are better for leaf wraps or garish.
Other Products: Shiso Furikake • Red Shiso Syrup • Shiso Powder • Dried Loose Leaf
Cut: The leaves can be used whole, cut into thin strips, or minced.
Cook: Its flavor dissipates when cooked, so shiso is almost always eaten raw. But you can use it like any other herb: tossed in the middle of cooking, sprinkled on the finished dish as a garnish, or infuse in vinegar or olive oil.
Storage: Layer the shiso leaves between paper towels then place them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks or in the freezer for 3-4 months. If the stems are still attached, wrap the ends with a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag and into the fridge.
Taste: grassy • mild • anise • licorice • spearmint • hot tang
Suggested Uses: toss with salads • stir fry • fruit • pasta • add to roasted veggies, fish, or tofu • use in cocktails and tea • batter and deep-fry • pickled or marinate • garnish to accent dishes • use as a plate for condiments • use a leaf wrap • serve on rice or scrambled eggs
Shibazuke Pickles (via Just One Cookbook)
Sweet Potato and Harissa Soup (via Donna Hay)
Raspberry Shiso Jam (via Style Me Pretty)
Shiso Shrub (via Munchies)
Purple Shiso Pesto (via Chowbacca)
Ume Shiso Pasta (via Food)
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What do you know about Purple Shiso?