Here is a little information of the Shiso Leaf, a ingredient we use at ‘le Calabash’
Both ornamental, medicinal, food and aromatic, the shiso leaf has existed for centuries in Japan, China and Korea, but does not have the same name depending on the country. It is a sacred plant in Asia where it is believed to have anti-allergic properties and it is highly recommended to alleviate stress. Besides its presence in the kitchen, the purple shiso leaf is also used as a preservative or dye.
The raw green shiso leaf has a minty taste, with a long freshness subtly accompanied with a touch of cumin. The purple shiso leaf has a more tangy taste with a touch of basil and a hint of ginger. However, when the shiso leaf is cooked it then loses some of its aromatic power.
It’s not the easiest product to find. The first place to look for Shiso is at the market, head straight for the market gardener’s stall who sells aromatic herbs such as basil, mint or coriander. Alternatively, it is possible to grow it at home because it has adapted to our climate, but it will need plenty of sun and water. As for shiso juice, it can be found in Japanese groceries.
Fruit is undoubtedly the partner of this herb and it can be used as a garnish for desserts; such as a raspberry tart, a pineapple tartare, an apricot clafoutis or a lemon or strawberry cream. It is also possible to mix the leaves with sugar. The shiso juice can be used to make a jelly to pour onto a panna cotta or used to flavour ganache or to create ice creams and sorbets.