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shiso as you would parsley, basil or mint—snip and add to salads, rice,
noodles, even pizza. The aromatic, jagged leaves also make for
eye-catching garnishes on serving trays.
Though traditionally used as a garnish for sushi, sashimi and tempura dishes, shiso is no longer exclusive to Japanese-style cooking. The age-old herb is appearing in more modern and global interpretations, particularly in the fusion-style menus of California cuisine. Today, versatile shiso is used to flavor everything from tofu, bubble tea and sweet potatoes to salads, ravioli and sorbet.
Shiso is also known as perilla, beefsteak plant and orba.
VarietiesShiso comes in two varieties: aojiso (green perilla) and akajiso (purple-red perilla). The green variety is more common and widely used in restaurants. The purple-red is less aromatic, but prized as natural coloring agent. It's often used to tint umeboshi (dried, salted, pickled plums) and pickled ginger in Japan.
Buying TipsShiso is most readily available at Japanese grocery stores where it's stocked in the produce aisle year-round. The leaves should appear fresh; not dry or wilted. They should also have an invigorating aroma.
Storage TipsRinse the leaves under cold water and shake off the excess moisture. Fold them into a slightly dampened paper towel, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Use within three days—shiso rapidly loses color, flavor and aroma as it dries.
Usage TipsIf you're just getting to know shiso, start by taste-testing just a small bite. The leaves have the most pronounced flavor when uncooked, and some people find it to be quite strong. Chances are, though, once you experience this marvelous herb, you won't be able to get enough of it. Here are some simple ways to add it to your recipe repertoire:
• Use shiso as you would mint, basil or parsley.
• Float in mojitos or pitchers of lemonade.
• Use to make pesto instead of basil.
• Deep fry in tempura batter and serve with dipping sauce.
• Cut into thin strips and add to salads (fruit, tomato, pasta, chicken), rice and cold noodles.
• Use as a pizza topping.
Try one of our favorite shiso recipes:
Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms
Roulades of Salmon w
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