I seriously suck at gardening. I've even been known to kill succulents – that's how bad I am at keeping plants alive. Luckily, I'm surrounded by people with green thumbs, and I get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. This year, Yoko has had an abundance of Japanese cucumbers, ripe tomatoes, and shiso, all to which I have been a grateful recipient. Her yard gets plenty of hot hot Oakland heat during the summer months, which is necessary for her garden of earthly delights. The shiso in her planter thrives and they are full of minty shiso flavor, yet soft in texture.
So what have I done with all the shiso gifted to me by Yoko? Besides putting them into salads, natto, hiyashi chuka (Ramen Salad – get the Japanify Zine for the recipe!), cold zaru soba, and anything else I can think of when cooking, I have created a simple cocktail; a riff on the Mojito, the classic Cuban drink. As usual, I've put our Umami Mart spin on this using Japanese ingredients and have named this simply, the Shiso Shochu Mojito. This is so easy and perfect for a backyard barbeque, or make a huge batch of it in a punch bowl for your next house party!
Garnish: shiso leaf
1. For this drinks, you're going to build everything directly into the highball glass, so no need for a shaker.
Take the shiso leaves and liberally break off pieces with your fingers.
2. Add quartered limes into the glass.
3. Add the 3 barspoons of Ginger Marmalade. You can adjust this to your own palette – add more if you like a sweet drink, add less if you don't want it to be so ginger-y. Usually Mojitos use regular cane sugar, but I've subbed with this marmalade which adds sweetness and a subtle hint of ginger which complements the shiso well.
4. Muddle all the ingredients in your glass until the limes are sufficiently juiced.
5. Add the Shiso Shochu. This shochu is made with red shiso leaves in Hokkaido. Its flavor is reminiscent of umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum), since umeboshi uses red shiso in the pickling process. Overall, this shochu is mild in flavor and soft in texture, which is why I used 3 ounces in this drink. I think the green shiso leaves are necessary to enhance and brighten the shiso flavors in the shochu.
6. Add ice to the brim of the glass.
7. Stir to incorporate all the bits in the drink together with the shochu.
8. Add club soda to the top of the glass.
9. Garnish with a shiso leaf.
Make this a mocktail by eliminating the Shisho Shochu and adding two more spoonfuls of the ginger marmalade!
As we will start experiencing our elusive Indian Summer here in the Bay Area for the next few months, stay cool with this tropical drink!