Sashimi bowl with shiso leaves and wasabi
Food - Drink
Shiso Leaves: More Than Just A Pretty Decoration On Your Sushi Platter
No one would blame you if you ignored the green leaves that garnish your sushi platter in favor of the sushi itself, but these leaves are a fantastic ingredient all their own.
Also called perilla or beefsteak, shiso is a flavorful leafy green with a tangy, spicy, refreshing taste that's almost like intensified mint. It's beloved in many Asian cuisines.
Shiso leaves vary from red to green, with red leaves being more bitter, and a plant's flavor may include citrus-like tartness, herbal spiciness, and/or a refreshing minty bite.
Shiso is commonly eaten fresh as a garnish, but it can also be pickled, deep-fried for tempura, added to stir-fries and drinks, or used as a wrapper for sweet mochi confections.
Aside from adding flavor to meals, shiso can also be used as wrappers to separate and preserve food due to its phytoncide content, which can ward away food spoilage.
Shiso leaves are also used in traditional Chinese medicine to ease colds, aid digestion, protect teeth, and fight inflammation, infections, heart conditions, allergies, and asthma.
In the U.S., shiso can be found at Asian markets or online in fresh, pickled, frozen, or dried form. If you buy it fresh, use it quickly, since the leaves go bad after a few days.