Shiso: The Delicious Little Plant That Could

published Aug 5, 2013
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(Image credit: Anne Wolfe Postic)

To understand the taste of shiso leaf, you have to try it yourself. Herbaceous? Citrusy? A hint of mint? Or is that basil? I might say cilantro, but haters of cilantro aren’t necessarily opposed to shiso. The taste is an interesting and unique one. A friend introduced me to it, and even gave me a potted plant of my own, which I promptly killed. Or so I thought.

You can see the the remains of the shiso pot in the photo above and, interestingly enough, a shiso plant growing beside it. When my friend gave me the plant, she told me I could transplant it. I am lazy, so I just chucked the pot in another planter, next to some lemon balm, and — aside from picking a leaf here and there — mostly forgot about it.

I felt vaguely sad when I noticed shards of terracotta in and around the planter, with no shiso in sight. I can assume some small person hit it with a ball, a stick or a rock and it broke. No one confessed, but I wasn’t too mad, because we all know I would have killed that plant on my own.

(Image credit: Anne Wolfe Postic)

Lo and behold, I saw the other day that the shiso had already escaped the pot and survived! There are now several small plants in my planter, jockeying with the lemon balm for space, and holding their own. Go, shiso, the little plant that could!

I love those plants, with leaves ripe for picking, ready to carry sashimi from the plate to my mouth.

(Image credit: Anne Wolfe Postic)

Shiso complements all kinds of dishes, meat, seafood or vegetarian. Pork tacos? Add shiso! It is delicious with fried risotto cakes. Want to go all out? Try it with crab cakes topped with a dollop of pimento cheese and a side of coleslaw. Trust me.

(Image credit: Anne Wolfe Postic)

Need some more shiso ideas? Here you go. How do you use shiso? And what can I do with all that lemon balm?