43 Things To Do With Fresh Shiso

When Maxence and I went to Japan last year, one of the items I was determined to hunt down and bring back was a bag of shiso seeds to grow my own.

Shiso (pronounced “she-so”) is the Japanese name for an annual herb called Perilla, which belongs to the mint family. Other aliases include beefsteak plant (which makes little sense, if you ask me) or Japanese basil. It is used in quite a few Asian cuisines, but I’ve mostly encountered it in Japanese dishes myself.

Shiso comes in green or purple leaves with a slightly prickly texture and pointy, jagged edges, and it has a unique and vibrant taste that I could describe as herbaceous and citrusy. Like most leafy herbs, I find it is best used raw, the leaves whole or chiffonaded.

The green variety produces more tender and more flavorful leaves than the purple variety, but the latter makes up for that with a potent dyeing action: it is what gives umeboshi its color.

We did find shiso seeds in a deserted gardening section on the very top floor of a Tokyo department store, and I planted them in a pot outside my bedroom window as a cure for travel nostalgia when we got back. They sprouted with very little prodding, and soon developed into a bushy plant* from which I excitedly plucked leaves throughout the summer.

I hadn’t used all of the seeds, so I was able to plant a new batch this year, and while I wait for the teeny green leaves to shoot up from under the soil, I wanted to discuss possible uses for this lovely, lovely herb.

The simplified rule of thumb is that you can use shiso pretty much anywhere you would normally use basil or mint, but I thought we could go into a bit more detail.

As I’ve done before with sage and sorrel, I called out for suggestions on Twitter, and because you’re such an inspired bunch, you came through with great ideas, which I’m listing below along with my own. Thanks to all of you who chimed in, and the comment section is wide open if you want to add more!

See also:
- 45 Things To Do With Fresh Sage,
- 50 Things To Do With Fresh Sorrel.

* I’m an enthusiastic but inexperienced gardener and I put in too many seeds, so some of the smaller seedlings never matured in the shade created by the bigger ones. Live and learn.

Shiso pairings

~ Shiso + rice
~ Shiso + noodles or pasta
~ Shiso + tofu
~ Shiso + avocado
~ Shiso + cucumber
~ Shiso + mushrooms
~ Shiso + tomato
~ Shiso + ginger + soy sauce
~ Shiso + sesame
~ Shiso + fish and shellfish
~ Shiso + pork
~ Shiso + fruit (“exotic” fruits, citrus, berries, stone fruits)

Garnishes and condiments

~ Sprout the seeds and eat the sprouts.
~ When the plant blossoms, snip and eat the buds.
~ Dry the leaves and grind with salt (and optionally, sesame) to make a shiso salt that may be used as a furikake.
~ Fry the leaves in a tempura batter.
~ Make shiso oil to drizzle over gazpacho.
~ Pickle it with cucumbers.
~ Preserve the leaves in salt.

Meatless dishes

~ Soba salad with shiso, with bonus information on the Qi boosting properties of shiso.
~ Sprinkle if over tofu, as in Chika’s tofu à la mode.
~ Use it with rice: in onigiri, or over a bowl of steamed rice, or in fried rice.
~ Use it in this avocado and grapefruit salad.
~ Sprinkle it over a carrot and ginger soup.
~ Add it to a cucumber salad with rice vinegar.
~ Add it to pasta with olive oil, nori, soy sauce, butter, salt, and pepper.
~ Make shiso pesto for pasta.
~ Make pan-fried shiso & tofu “sandwiches”.
~ Make spring rolls with shiso and mushrooms.

Fish and shellfish

~ Slip a piece of leaf between the rice and the fish in nigiri sushi, or inside maki.
~ Serve it with sashimi or chirashi sushi.
~ Use it in a tartare of mackerel marinated in fresh ginger and soy sauce.
~ Make a mignonette of shiso and mango to eat with raw oysters.

Meat

~ Put it inside a rolled pork fillet that you will poach and slice.
~ Make a pan-fried roulade of chicken stuffed with chopped umeboshi and shiso.
~ Make a Vietnamese-inspired shiso wrap: shiso + rice vermicelli + bbq vietnamese pork, rolled in soft rice paper. You can fry these rolls, or eat them as is.
~ Wrap it around some meat or veggies and pan fry them, then add a little soy sauce, mirin, and sesame seeds.

Beverages

~ Make an infusion with the leaves, to drink hot or cold.
~ Make shiso juice with purple shiso.
~ Try infusing it for cockails, such as Alchemology’s shiso vodka, or just use in place of mint to make a shiso mojito.

Desserts

~ Use it on fruit, fruit salads and fruit soups: think strawberries, peaches, oranges, pineapple
~ Mix it with sugar (and optionally lime zest) to make shiso sugar or shiso lime sugar to sprinkle on crêpes and other desserts.
~ Use it to flavor macarons, such as the ones François Payard made for a fundraiser for Japan.

Care to add your own suggestions?

Tagged:
  • eleyne

    Lemon-shiso sorbet is unbelievable. so very good. scream sorbet from oakland made the first iteration of this that I’ve tried.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      That sounds so good! I’ll try it by adapting this recipe for lemon verbena sorbet.

  • http://www.dinnersanddreams.net Nisrine M.

    I love any herb from the mint family and therefore I think I will love shiso when I try it.

  • http://outoftheaviary.blogspot.com Alex

    Interesting! I am going to Japan on Saturday. Any tips on were to get the seeds? Do they sell them in supermarkets? I#d love to bring some home…

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      As I mentioned in the post, I found mine in the gardening section of a department store in Tokyo. I also saw them at some 100-yen stores.

  • Caroline

    Great suggestions! I bought a nice little shiso plant at a German market and it’s doing really well on my balcony. I have only tried it in a salad and I must say that we didn’t like it very much but with so many suggestions, I am bound to find a good use for it.

  • Susan

    Such a timely post — this year my community garden has a big bed of shiso and I was wondering how to take advantage of the bounty. I adore it with sushi but it is a very particular flavor. Thanks for the ideas!

  • http://mamichan.livejournal.com masami

    also tarako (fermented fish roe) spaghetti with julienned shiso
    cold tofu with grated ginger, julienned shiso, bonito flakes, soy sauce
    i like cucumber, radish, mango salad with citrus vinaigrette and torn up shiso
    stuff into belly of soft shell crab before frying it

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Inspired suggestions, thank you!

  • http://www.culinarywoman.com CulinaryWoman

    I’m using it to flavor lemonade. Put a few leaves in the bottom of a glass, muddle them, and top with crushed ice. Then add lemonade. The flavor intesifies as the ice melts.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Sounds super refreshing!

  • http://bestofthislife.blogspot.com Emily

    Thank you for the great suggestions! Just fell upon your blog and am excited to read through it.

    xo Emily

  • http://80breakfasts.blogspot.com joey

    I’ve had shiso in a Korean BBQ place. We grilled small slices/strips of meat and wrapped the grilled meats, along with a choice of condiments (pickley things, chili, sauce), in the shiso leaf. You can further wrap the whole lot, including the shiso leaf, in a bigger lettuce leaf…or simply have it in the shiso leaf. So good!

    On another note, you are inspiring me to make good of my plan to fill up my tiny balcony with herbs!

    • Kats

      I like it with Korean barbecue too (Samgyeopsal)! With lettuce or by itself, wrapped on a bit barbecued meat, garlic, kimchi, rice, etc.. wow, i’m getting hungry.. I also like it in Korean rice rolls (Kimbap), like Japanese maki..

      I love it with rice salad too, with mizuna, a bit of crumbled bacon, dried mango and tomato vinegar :)

      Although the korean and japanese shiso actually taste and look a bit different, i love them both!

  • Liz Thomas

    My neighbour next to my office has a plant growing on his doorstep! Just been out to nick a leaf and remember that I really don’t like it very much.

    Graham loves it though!

  • Carine_07

    Tu devrais laisser fleurir trois ou quatre tiges pour obtenir de la graine pour l’année prochaine.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Excellente suggestion, merci Carine !

  • http://breadandmilkandblackberries.com/ Ruth

    I’ve never tried shiso, but you’ve sold it to me. Just need to get hold of some now….

  • http://sasasunakku.com Sasa

    I missed shiso a lot when I was in Austria so I tried to grow it…to no avail! It took 3 months to produce 2 wee, sickly pale sprouts! Now I’m back in NZ my dad’s garden will be keeping me well supplied and I shall try some of your suggestions. Have you tried mitsuba? Another lovely Japanese herb.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I don’t think I’ve ever (knowingly at least) tried mitsuba, but now I have to hunt it down! :)

  • http://www.dramaticpancake.com Kathryn

    I’ve never tried shiso (to my knowledge at least), but I’m intrigued. Thanks for compiling such a great list of ideas!

  • http://www.realepicurean.com/ Scott at Real Epicurean

    Loving this series of posts; always on the lookout for more ways to use up my fresh herbs.

  • http://www.swigsandgrinds.blogspot.com Swigs and Grinds

    Thank you! I live in Hawaii & see Shiso a lot and haven’t had a clue as to what to do with it! But alas, a whole list you have provided!!! Next time I see it, I will snap some up and come back here for some re-enforcement on getting my shiso on!
    Cheers,
    H

  • http://www.raspberryandchipotle.blogspot.com Tessa

    I like this deep fried in a thin coating of tempura batter. I and growing it in pots and wrote about it on my blog.
    The seeds are easy to find online.
    If it likes your garden it may seed itself.

  • http://www.raspberryandchipotle.blogspot.com Tessa

    PS The seeds are edible too. I haven’t tasted any yet but when my plants go to seed I will try them in a cake or biscuit recipe.

  • http://www.delikaatrotterdam.nl/ Marije

    I bought the seeds here. It’s a seedstore in Dordrecht in the Netherlands. They do ship.
    zoek = search

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Good to know, thank you!

  • http://simmerdownfood.com noelle {simmer down!}

    This is excellent. There’s a Japanese grocery/ sushi bar near me that sells shiso leaves, which I’ve purchased a couple times for specific recipes, but I always had more than I needed and never knew quite what to do with the leftovers. Now I have no more excuses for letting them linger and wilt in the back of the fridge!

  • Sheila Michaels

    Thank you so much for this. I gave away so much shiso the first year (beautiful bronze). People complained to me that it was infesting not only my neighborhood, but all their neighborhoods, too. And it comes back. I have less shiso lately, but I still want to use it & so seldom get to branch out with it.

  • http://therichestgirlinbondi.com Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi

    Pat on the back for your successful shiso green thumb! I’d also love to try lemon-shiso sorbet or some tempura shiso. A sprout or two in a lemonade during summer would do wonders too ..

  • http://theperfectpastry.blogspot.com Margie

    Perfect! I live in a city that’s about half Japanese, and while I regularly benefit from the fantastic Japanese markets and restaurants, I’m usually stumped when it comes to shiso. Some of your ideas sound great.

    One thing that I’ve always thought of doing was a shiso-miso soup (also fun to say, which is a bonus): Make a miso broth (adding soba if desired) with some cubed firm tofu and replace the more commonly used scallions with some shiso leaves floating on top.

    • Channon Doughty

      I will happily try that! though I would probably keep the scallions too. Thank you for the idea.

      • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

        Do report back if you do, Channon!

  • http://l2ee2l.wordpress.com/ The Mouse

    Shiso + Bacon!

  • http://www.bloomingtastebuds.blogspot.com/ TSAC

    Shiso+ chicken, mushrooms, and whatever else you have on hand (sesame oil, dried seaweed, tomatoes etc) in noodles and broth is a classic asian dish found almost anywhere there. Yum!

  • sheila michaels

    I bought one red shiso plant from a lady in Chinatown maybe 20 years ago. There is no stopping it. Maybe she was a middle-aged shiso fairy. You don’t need seeds, really. Put the cut stem in water & it will probably sprout roots. (like lemongrass stalks do) Then, just put it in a nice pot or window box. Red is very decorative. It became so invasive that a friend tore it out. I thought it looked really pretty as a border. No accounting for taste.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thanks for the no-seed tip, Sheila!

    • Heliotropa

      It grows as an annual here and we use it in the gardens. I saved the strongest plant and potted it up for winter, then took about 40 cuttings and rooted them in peat moss. Grows like crazy! Much simpler than starting from seed.

      • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

        Thanks a lot for the gardening tip, Heliotropa!

  • cindy d

    customs in seattle asked if i brought any seeds into the u.s. whoops. my son’s father-in-law gave me some. careful

  • Ardi

    It is now used in a skin care as Shiso is beneficial as an antibacterial, and also as a skin brightener / even out skin tone.

  • WLC

    Shisho seeds are available from Pinetree Garden Seeds in the US. website-www.superseeds.com, phone 207 926 3400. They are in Maine . Just bought some, have not yet planted them.

  • Karyn Tan

    Are the shiso seeds avaiable in Singapore?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Perhaps you have access to a Japanese market where you could ask?

  • http://francesk.org frances kakugawa

    Don’t forget the green seeds that appear at the end of the harvest. Rinse out seeds, stir fry in sesame oil with bonito flakes, shoyu, sake, sugar and hot pepper. STir fry until liquid disappears. Delicious over hot rice.

    I bought starter chiso plants at Whole Foods.

  • Bobbi Breazeale

    I was introduced to shiso while living in Japan as an ingredient in large rice balls wrapped in seaweed (nori) that had bits of smoked salmon, shiso and umeboshi inserted. Somehow I got some seeds a few years ago (can’t remember where or how) but have found it to be a great self-seeder. It now grows wild all over may Georgia USA yard. Am drying some today. My husband and I like it sprinkled over salmon with balsamic vinegar.

  • Susan C

    Thrilled to find your post on Shisho! I have an 83 year old Japanese aunt by marriage who shared her very prolific crop of both purple and green with me. All I really knew was what she told me (mostly that I could use it in anything, especially stir fry and fish). I knew how to pronounce it, but not how to spell it.This gives me so many great ideas! If you have any ideas for “slimy potatoes” I’d love to know about them :)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      How special your shiso plant must feel, coming from your relative! I’m glad you find these suggestions useful.

      As for slimy potatoes, I am intrigued: what are they?

      • Susan C

        I just found out that what Aunt Rose (real name Suma) calls slimy potatoes, is actually Taro or Japanese elephant ear. She is rather fond of eating these tubers, although I find them a little too, well…slimy!

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

          I’ve only ever tasted taro root (and love it!). Is that the part of the plant that Aunt Rose eats also?

          • Susan C

            Yes, that’s the part she calls potatoes, but she also eats the leaves occasionally.

          • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

            Thanks Susan!

  • Channon Doughty

    I am very late to this party, but that is okay. I finally had the pleasure of trying shiso a couple of weeks ago, at a local fresh-comes-first hidden gem sushi restaurant. (If you ever some to LA, it is called Hirose and is located in the South Bay community of Torrance). It has a most unique, pleasant flavor that I definitely want to learn to incorporate into my own creations. Imagine my joy when I found it here on chocolate and zucchini, my favorite food blog. Thanks for all you do and share. If I discover any other uses I will let you know! (By the way, Hirose also makes the most delectable chawanmushi. Though I think shiso would over power this delicate steamed egg custard. I recommend trying some as soon as you can! Both times, I have eaten it as slowly as possible to make the tiny custard last through the entire meal)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ Clotilde Dusoulier

      Thanks Channon, that sounds like a wonderful restaurant. Hope you have fun with shiso in your own kitchen!

Planning a trip to Paris?
Eat Your Books Recipe Index

Instagrams

Get the newsletter

Receive a free monthly email with a digest of recent entries, plus exclusive inspiration and special announcements. You can also choose to be notified of every new post.