October 2, 2012
This is my second write-up in a series about summer vegetables. Instead of enjoying them now, I am packing them for the upcoming seasons.
I love shiso. You often find them sadly sitting underneath your sashimi at Japanese restaurants. These green herbs are similar to basil, but milder, and goes very well with fish, meat, rice, or anything, really. This summer, all the Korean farmers’ market stalls carried huge bunches of them, and I enjoyed using them in various dishes throughout the summer. But the season has come to an end. You can still go to Japanese grocery stores and buy 10 leaves for $2, which I will do occasionally, but before the end of the season, why don’t you pack them up to enjoy in the middle of a blizzard?
First, I made shiso pesto. It’s exactly the same as using basil, or any other green herbs, but for my shiso pesto, I don’t use any cheese in order to prolong shelf life. I usually add cheese when I am cooking with this pesto.
If you can get whole bunch of shiso, process it with your preferred nuts, salt, garlic (I’ve been using roasted garlic instead or raw ones, which significantly reduces the strong garlic flavor and instead adds a very mild and sweet garlic-ness) and olive oil. I used almonds since that’s what I had in my pantry.
Kayoko gave me shiso seeds last year, and I planted some earlier this year. Shiso seeds are supposed to be used in the year you get them, but I had some leftovers and planted them in my planter. The eaves were a bit tough, probably because my balcony gets way too much sun. I let them grow anyways, hoping I could at least harvest its seeds, and sure enough, they came out in the middle of September.
You want to be very careful when to harvest the seeds. If it’s too early, it’s too mushy, and if it’s too late, it’s way too tough. Just when you can squeeze a seed and it pops, is when they are ready.
Once you carefully harvest the seeds seeds, wash them, and blanch them in boiling water for a minute, then put them in a jar.
You can just add soy sauce, or some people pickle them lightly with salts. I had shoyu koji I made some time ago in the fridge, so I added that to about the same amount of seeds and mixed them together.
This is awesome. You can eat heaps of rice with this, or you can add this in natto. Very refreshing shiso flavor, plus each seed pops in your mouth, exploding with shiso flavor. If you have an access to these little pops, you should definitely try making them.
Last, but not least is the easiest way to preserve shiso for the colder seasons. Wash the shiso, dry, and lay one piece of shiso in a container, sprinkle salt, and repeat the process for all your shiso.
Salted shiso lasts forever. You can wrap rice balls with them, and it adds a nice salty shiso flavor. You can also julienne them and sprinkle on pasta dish, or you can use on any dishes that call for shiso (since it’s heavily salted, I would reduce the salt in cooking).
So long, summer.