shakers logoaPinchOf.com logo 
 

Make the most of culinary herbs and spices.

Home
Articles
Questions and Answers
Links
Send us mail
Free update
About us
Media mentions
Recipe Index
Reference Desk
Books We Like
Poster Store

Our Mini Mall



Help make this site more useful and fun! Write with your ideas or comments.

Building better Web sites through better information. Click here and take our poll!



Sunflowers with Dill and Chives
Sunflowers with Dill and Chives
Garrett, Michelle
Buy this Photographic Print at AllPosters.com




 

 




 

 





 

 

  

All About Shiso

Shiso, perilla, beefsteak plant--by any name it's a tasty herb that's lovely to look at as well. If shiso is new to you, keep reading. We tell you all about it, how to grow it and provide links to recipes that show how to put it to work in your kitchen. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.         

The cookbook is now available for purchase! To find out more about it as well as take advantage of special website pricing ($8 off--use discount code U9KGY74Z) visit the Spiced Right e-store at CreateSpace.

We got a glowing review! Check it out at the Chef Talk website.

All About Shiso

by Sandra Bowens

The first time I saw shiso used as an ingredient was at a sushi bar. The chef garnished a plate with one of the frilly leaves and a light sparked inside my cook's mind. Is that how we ended up with that wacky plastic grass on our sushi trays, I wondered? Fast forward one year to the broadcast of a PBS cooking show with Ming Tsai about shiso. Sure enough, he confirmed my suspicions.  

Native to eastern Asia, shiso is grown as a crop in South Korea, China, Japan, India and Thailand. The plant was introduced to the United States in the 1800's when Japanese and Korean workers brought the seeds of their beloved herbs with them. Shiso was later found in wooded areas near camps where Japanese-Americans were held during World War II and is known as the weed beefsteak plant in much of the Midwest.  

The seeds of shiso are pressed for an oil that has medicinal, culinary and commercial applications. At one time it was even used as fuel oil. The seeds possess a quality that is on par with other drying oils such as tung or linseed valued in painting products and for waterproofing cloth.


The foliage of shiso can be converted into a food coloring. Essential oils distilled from the leaves are sometimes used in flavoring foods and enhancing fragrances. 

Shiso may be common in Asia but is just lately becoming popular as a culinary herb in North America. The botanical name is Perilla frutescens so you may also hear it referred to as perilla. It is a pretty plant, an annual, with spiked leaves that are ruffled or smooth and comes in shades of purple (often called red) and a brilliant green. Shiso grows well from seed sown after the last

 

 

frost and will tolerate light shade or full sun. The word frutescens describes a shrub. You will want to pinch it back a bit as it grows to keep it compact and bushy. Near the end of the season the plant will send up attractive stalks of wee lavender flowers that give way to sweet-tasting seeds.  

Like so many of our favorite herbs shiso is a member of the Lamiacea, or mint, family. You will have to try it for yourself to decide what it tastes like as everyone seems to come up with a different description. Some say it tastes like curry while others describe the flavor as a combination of cumin, parsley and cilantro with just a hint of cinnamon. My opinion is that it is similar to cinnamon basil.  

Shiso leaves can be eaten raw or cooked or even pickled.  Toss the tender leaves into salads or use them as you would mint or basil in savory dishes like soups and rice or to flavor fish. Older leaves might be sliced into strips and added to stir-frys or other vegetable preparations. Shiso foliage is sometimes used to flavor vinegar. The red variety gives the vinegar an attractive pinkish tinge. Red leaves are a common ingredient in Japan's pickled plums.  

Shiso seeds, toasted and salted, are a popular snack in Japan. Crushed, consider the slightly sweet seeds as a flavoring for cooking oils and mustard. Don't forget the flowers. The young sprays are charming as a garnish and in some cultures the older blooming clusters are fried.  

Although I have grown this gorgeous plant in my herb garden, I have yet to develop any spectacular recipes that highlight it. For this I refer you to Ming Tsai. He has a variety of creative recipes with shiso at his television show's website. Go to Simply Ming shiso recipes.  


 

   

Search this site

back to top

 

Other articles you might enjoy:

1. All About Basil

2. Herb Gardening Q&A Page

3.All About Mint

4. Cooking with Herbs Q&A Page

5. All About Cinnamon



 
Related Items:see all items...

 

 Edible Flower Garden (Edible Garden Series) This site's readers love this book. Filled with glorious photographs, it will give you new ideas for a lovely flower garden that tastes good too.

 

 

 

Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener's Guide to Growing Over 50 Herbs Plus How to Use Them in Cooking, Crafts, Companion Planting and More Learn herb gardening from the ground up, literally, with the help of a knowledgeable teacher and gardener. 

 

Edible Landscaping  Rosalind Creasy knows all about using food plants to round out your yard. She pioneered the idea 25 years ago. This updated edition includes 300 inspiring photographs.

 

 Olive Oil: From Tree to Table  History, photographs and recipes; this volume has it all and it's all about the olive.

 


 
 

privacy policy

  
  Copyright 1999-2013  A Pinch Of...  All rights reserved