Shiso (Perilla frutescens) is a member of the mint family and comes in a green or purple variation. This herb has the reputation of being hard to germinate and I almost gave up on it after I direct seeded and waited a month for it to make an appearance! The trick with this herb is it needs light to germinate. By just pressing the seeds gently into the soil, the seeds will eventually take root. As gardeners, we can't resist covering our seeds with a little soil! The irony is, although an annual, Shiso is a prolific self seeder and will take over if allowed to flower and go to seed.
Shiso has a unique taste. I have heard it described as citrus-like or with hints of basil and mint, but I don't think either of those is right. On it's own, Shiso is not appealing, the magic comes when you pair it with other things. A staple of Asian cooking, if you have been to a sushi restaurant, you have probably eaten Shiso. It pairs really well with rice vinegar and ginger and soy, making it a good addition to stir fries. It also pairs well with tuna.
Here are some ways we have enjoyed Shiso this summer:
- In cucumber salads with a rice vinegar based vinaigrette
- Instead of lettuce in tuna sandwiches or roll ups
- Mixed into scrambled eggs
- Finely chopped on fruit salad
I grew a lot of Shiso this year. One of the ways I've been using it up is in a pesto. Here is my version of Shiso pesto, using cashews and ricotta which balances out the strong Shiso flavor.
|Shiso Pesto over pasta with summer squash and chicken.|
2 cups of Shiso
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Place all the ingredients, except for the oil, in a food processor . Drizzle in a little oil and pulse the machine until the ingredients are combined. Turn the processor on and using the opening, add the oil a little at a time until the pesto reaches the consistency you like.
This recipe makes a lot of pesto! Freeze some for later.
See you in the kitchen,
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