Umami Mart Registry

This post is rather late, for which I apologize. Er, about a month late. SORRY! Where has all the time gone? How is it already mid-September? I look outside and the leaves are turning color. The light gives off a deeper glow. It is dark at 7:30pm.

Sigh. San Francisco's (non-existent) summer is officially over.

So... let me continue today with my Umeboshi Project with Sylvan of Peko Peko Catering, which we started back in July. You saw that we foraged the plums ourselves in Berkeley, made plum liqueur, and started the pickling process for umeboshi.

About a month after salting the plums, we went onto the ever-important step for making umeboshi: adding the aka-shiso (a Japanese variety of perilla leaves that are red/purple on one side, green on the other. Not to be confused with the Korean variety, which is a deep purple on both sides).

Sylvan searched high and low for the aka-shiso. And not just a few stems--typically, you want about 10% of your weight in ume, in shiso. So this was no small amount of shiso, considering we had about five pounds of plums that we were pickling.

Then, Maya Shiroyama, of Kitazawa Seed Company, came to our rescue. Turns out that her parents have shiso growing out the ying yang in their yard. HOORAY!


Four of us gathered in the Peko Peko clubhouse on a Monday morning to get to work. We carefully washed all the shiso that Maya so kindly brought over. And washed. Then re-washed. Ad infinitum.

Look at how much shiso we had? Tubfuls!


Liberally sprinkle salt over the shiso.


Now, massage the shiso gently, to take out as much liquid as possible. GO!





Yoko's tub of shiso yielded this little ball.

After all the shiso massaging, this is all that was left.

The tubs of purple liquid is like gold--it is ume-zu, aka ume vinegar.

Alright, now back to the plums, which have pickled into a lovely golden color:


Add the aka-shiso.

The shiso is the main component for turning umeboshi into its signature deep purple hue.

Mix around so the shiso is evenly distributed.

Remember our umeshu (aka plum liqueur)?


Plum shriveled to oblivion.

Sylvan wanted a sweeter umeboshi, so we took out some of the pickling fluid, and replaced with the umeshu. Smart!





And now, wait another month.

Stay tuned for the final step: Drying!

1 comment

  •  This comment is but a celebration of the lighter side of the “darkening” internet. One ray of that light is the heady new-age truth that I can sit in a museum cafe on Fifth Avenue (yes, THAT Fifth Avenue, I add with unearned snobbery) and search any topic that comes to mind (is THIS what we’ll do when machines replace us?) and when the topic is the “nagging assonance” (when two words sound alike, and you know the difference, but you’re tired of subconsciously confusing them) of the words “ume” and “umami,” the top search result hurtles me 2400 miles west to your page. (It also hurtles me 6 years back, so this comment may never be seen. Who cares? Kids obsessively shoot foul shots alone in their driveways for hours, knowing full well that only they will hear the swoosh.) [But if you make a shot in the forest, is the swoosh worth 1 point? I digress from my digression.] Google’s snippet of your text included your emotional reflection of the warm but diminishing light of approaching autumn. An hour ago I snapped a photo of mass wisteria cascading down the brick and limestone wall of Andrew Carnegie’s mansion. To be hurtled – from the brightening purple gaiety of late spring to the poignant deepening gold of the autumn moment you describe – and also from honking taxis to painted ladies (for me, THE San Francisco!) is a thrilling ride indeed. While there, I paused to skim your post, and now I have a real question. A Japanese friend introduced me to ume-shiso maki without bothering to correct my naive understanding that it was simply “plum and mint” sushi. Your article has made my enjoyment of my favorite no-dead-animals roll a more complex matter. Can I still tell people that – in essence, at least – it’s “plum and mint?” Switching to “I love natto maki” would be rather like boasting that “reading ‘Ulysses’ changed my life.” The truth behind that artistically-correct boast is that I never even slogged through ten pages. For me natto is gourmet ear wax, though I loyally keep trying it. But whether shiso is mint or mysterious weed, I’m plum out of space, so thanks for a tasty virtual time/space joy ride.

    Ben on

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