SG + SHG Gift
Shiso, as you might know, comes with your sashimi dish at any Japanese restaurant. It is usually green, and looks as if they are recycled since no one eats them. I like them wrapped in a piece of sashimi since it absorbs fishy-ness from fish. People call it "Japanese basil" or perilla.

There is also red shiso available sometimes. We have a weekly Wednesday Green Market right outside of our work, and there's one vegetable stand where you can find a lot of Asian stuff, from Japanese eggplants, hishito pepper (non spicy skinny peppers) to shiso.

They sell both red and green shiso, and they are cheap as hell. At any Japanese grocery store, it's about $1.49 for 10 leaves, but there, a whole bunch, I mean, HUGE bunch, is sold for only $2. What a bargain.

I've bought a lot of green shiso and I was googling around for the usage of red shiso. One usually uses it when making umeboshi (the pickled plums those Project runway whores had to eat when they went to Japan).

Anyhow, I saw this recipe for red shiso juice, and I made it last week, and decided to do it again this week. I made last week's version using apple cider vinegar, and it tasted too heavily vinegary. So I went all over the town last weekend to find citric acid. Citric acid basically tastes sour, sort of like crystallized lemons, and it adds sourness to dishes. Apparently Passover cooking uses some of it, and I went to Zabars, thinking they would surely have it.

I bought 7 bunches for $14, plus raw sugar (similar to brown rice, cane is not so stripped down, hence the color is a bit darker), citric acid (aka sour salt). Here are the ingredients: shiso, sugar and citric acid. The bright dark red shiso is pretty.

Anyhow, boil 5 liters of water, and add the cleaned shiso. As soon as the shiso is in the water, it starts losing its color. It is interesting to watch the dark red rendering into the water, and the leaves become very green.

Once the shiso is totally drained of its flavor and color, take it out of the water. Look how green the leaves are now. I thought about saving it, but it had lost all its flavor, so I dumped it.

The water color is so dark, it's almost black.

And magic happens after adding citric acid.

End product. Beautifully pink, refreshing, AWESOME. I bet mixing this with Shochu would be very nice, but I mixed it with rum. Tried with vodka, but it wasn't too impressive. I have to experiment for the best mixture. Of course you can drink it virgin with seltzer.

Two findings:

1.) After dumping entire bag of sugar into the pot, it was sooo sweet, almost disgusting, but it took 5 teaspoon of citric acid lost all the sweetness, and just became sour. I bet many candy companies use to this trick disguise sugar by adding citric acid.

2.) This tastes very refreshing, and feels healthy, you know, herb juice, like it cleanses your body. So you drink too much.


  • Wow! This looks fun to make. My shiso plant is still producing abundantly so I should do this. I love the pink color.

    yoko on

  • wait, so the citric acid make the water go from a deep red, to pink? tell me more.

    i just had some of this- it’s really great! tastes sorta like sorrel juice, the jamaican drink- you know, herby and pink.

    def need to try with shochu!

    kayoko on

  • Shi So Pretty.

    Yamahomo on

  • Awesome. Shiso is great.

    Tyson on

  • Apparently there is another Asian man who buys shit load of shiso at Union Square (they asked me "Are you the guy who come to Union Square and buy lots of shiso?) So go there, they are one of the neatest looking vegee tent, with two Korean ladies at the cashier.

    Yamahomo on

  • Omg shiso so cheap? I have to go next week…when is the market until? I have seen recipes for this before and really want to try this! I mean, not like make it or anything, just drink it.

    Sonja on

  • Yama, you are the fucking best.

    kayoko on

  • It’s my understanding that shiso is only toxic to certain animals such as cows and horses, not humans. I think for humans it actually has medicinal uses—at least according to the chinese—as an anti-inflammatory agent.

    Paystyle on

  • Be careful when using Shiso- I love the flavor too but it is toxic when you take too much of it. I’m not sure at what level it becomes poisonous but I wouldn’t drink a whole lot of cocktails made with it the way I like to drink, but I can’t wait to try this recipe- I’ve been dying for Shiso Shochu since my last trip to Japan and I can’t seem to find it anywhere in the US! Maybe I can make my own instead!

    Hemicat on

  • I recommend mixing it with gin…. And I've never tried citric acid. I'll have to give it a go. My recipe uses vinegar and lemon slices that you leave in when you bottle.

    REES on

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