How To Eat and Cook with Shiso Leaves

What is shiso?

Perilla frutescens var. crispa, also called shiso from Japanese シソ is a variety of species Perilla frutescens of the genus Perilla, belonging to the mint family, Lamiaceae. Shiso is a perennial plant that may be cultivated as an annual in temperate climates. The plant occurs in red (purple-leaved) and green-leaved forms. There are also frilly ruffled-leaved forms, called chirimen-jiso, and forms that are red only on top, called katamen-jiso.

This herb was previously known as the “beefsteak plant”, a mostly obsolete name. It is sometimes referred to by its genus name, Perilla, which is ambiguous, as the name also includes the Perilla frutescens, which is a different culinary cultigen. Starting around the 1980s, the rise in popularity of Japanese cuisine has resulted in the mass media more commonly referring to it as shiso.

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In Japan, the plant is called shiso (紫蘇/シソ; [ɕiso̞]). In Vietnam, it is called tía tô ([tiɜ˧ˀ˦ to˧˧]). The Japanese name shiso and the Vietnamese tía tô are cognates, each loan words from zǐsū (紫苏/紫蘇), which means Perilla frutescens in Chinese. (Perilla frutescens var. crispa is called huíhuísū (回回苏/回回蘇) in Chinese.) The first character 紫means “purple”, and the second 蘇 means “to be resurrected, revived, rehabilitated”. In Japan, shiso traditionally denoted the purple-red form. In recent years, green is considered typical, and red considered atypical.

Shiso Leaves can be used as a herb for garnish. It is used this way in Vietnam, Japan and Korea.

In Japan, Shiso is used for many purposes:

  • battered and served as tempura;
  • used in pickles such as Umeboshi;
  • the seeds can be used as a garnish;
  • leaves can be wrapped around sushi;
  • dried leaves can be powdered and used as a garnish;
  • oil can be distilled from the dried leaves (the oil is used in Korean cooking);
  • used as a food colouring, because the colour leeches out into other food ingredients;
  • the flower buds can be used as a garnish, Flowering clusters can be fried

Resources:

Wikipedia

http://www.cooksinfo.com/shiso-leaves

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