Shiso, or perilla, has been such a joy to grow. I bought 2 small plants last spring that I was able to split and root into 4-5 plants by midsummer. I let them go to seed, and this spring I had little purple and green perilla plants popping up all over the raised bed.
I transplanted the biggest 4 of each color and pulled out the rest. They’ve done really well in containers.
Shiso plants are vigorous and pretty. They stand about 12″ off the ground with large bright leaves until late summer when they fade a bit as they go to seed. But you do need to pull up unwanted seedlings in the spring since it reseeds so easily. Luckily, unlike its common mint cousin, it does not spread by rhizomes so it’s easier to keep in check.
Shiso has a unique flavor–grassy and fresh like Thai basil but with a hint of mint and a slight musky, savory flavor like oregano.
It’s fantastic to have in the garden to serve with summer barbecue (think of its classic use in Korean bbq, wrapped around a piece of galbi with a sliver of garlic…). It also does well with a robust marinade.
My recipe changes a lot (and you’ll find dozens of other recipes elsewhere), but the basics are: a salty base, a bit of sugar (to promote fermentation and balance the salt), something spicy, and some aromatics. Here’s today’s version:
Fermented Shiso Leaves
- 8 tbsp soy sauce
- 8 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 fresh chili, minced
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 spring onions, sliced fine
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Mix up all the ingredients into a sauce. Pour a little at the bottom of a glass dish, then layer the shiso 2-3 deep at a time and pour sauce over each layer (see video clip below).
Leave on the counter for 1 day, then into the fridge. This recipe is on the salty end of the spectrum so plan on eating it with rice!