Ingredients, dishes and drinks from Japan by Ad Blankestijn

Monday, July 18, 2011


Perilla leaves 紫蘇 (しそ). In English, also called "beefsteak plant" (Perilla frutescens). In Japan also called aoba ("green leaf") or ooba "big leaf").

Shiso leaves
[Shiso leaves. Photo Ad Blankestijn]

The large leaves of this plant are used in Japanese cuisine. It is a member of the mint family (tasting somewhere between mint and basil) and has a refreshing taste. Shiso improves the appetite.

There is a green and a red variety. The red variety (akajiso) is used for coloring umeboshi.

The green type (aojiso) has a variety of uses.
  • It used as a garnish with sashimi and sushi. Good for its antibacterial properties.
  • Finely chopped, it can be added as a flavoring to hot rice and other dishes.
  • It can be deep-fried as tempura.