Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What is red shiso, and why did I buy it?

Tonight as I was looking through my seed packets, anxious to get the last of the seeds in before the rain arrives later, I came upon a packet of seeds I bought for this spring and forgot about- red shiso. Hmmm..... I wonder what I was thinking?

I know I have been doing a lot of research lately, trying to expand my repertoire of Asian dishes, and red shiso, a Japanese herb, definitely fits into that plan. I do know (from watching millions of episodes of Chopped) that the red leaves are used to get the distinct red color of umeboshi, or Japanese pickled plums. I've seen these odd fruits appear in the chefs' baskets of secret ingredients several times. I know they are very very salty and sour. 

Some sushi chefs sprout the shiso seed and use the sprouts in sushi-making. Maybe THAT will be a good way for me to experiment, as sushi-making is a new hobby around the Little Lake House. I've seen the leaves used as a serving vessel for wasabi on sushi plates before too.

The red leaves are also dried and crushed to make yukari, which is often used as a seasoning for rice and other dishes (or so I have read.......).

As I continue reading I see articles and blog posts of all kinds of things to do with shiso- from salad use to chiffonaded for a garnish. Use a leaf between the rice and the fish when making nigiri. Chiffonade and toss with rice or noodles. Here's one that catches my eye- infuse vodka with shiso leaves!! I can gt behind that!

Tomorrow I will be looking for a nice big pot and get some seeds started, so soon I can begin experimenting with this new-to-me herb, so stay tuned- I will have lots to share.

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