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Test Kitchen tips: Shiso

May 22, 2012 |  9:15 am


That beautiful leaf, artfully placed under your toro (tuna belly) sashimi, isn't just the Japanese equivalent of an old-school sprig of parsley. It's a captivating herb that's sort of cinnamon-y, sort of basil-ish, kind of anise-like. You might catch a note of cumin or curry leaf, along with a hint of citrus.

That leaf is shiso, called by a host of other names as well. Akashiso is the common Japanese name for red or purple-leafed shiso, aoshiso is the green-leafed variety -- at a sushi bar, it might be called ohba. In North America, it's known primarily as perilla, but also as beefsteak plant and summer coleus. All parts of the plant -- leaves, flowers, roots, seeds and stems -- are used in a variety of Asian dishes.

Think of shiso as a chic and exotic cousin to basil and mint, and try it anywhere you'd use either.

We explored the many uses for shiso in a story Food ran a couple years back. Check out the story, along with gardening tips (ever considered growing your own?) and, of course, recipes:

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.


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-- Noelle Carter

Photo credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times