Shiso (pronounced SHEE-soh) is one of the most popular culinary herbs in Japan. Perhaps best known in the United States for its use as a sushi wrapper, the leaf has a number of uses in the kitchen.bn It comes in two varieties: green and reddish-purple. Shiso is also called by different names. It’s ohba (pronounced OH-ba) at the sushi bar; it’s also known as perilla, Japanese basil or Japanese beefsteak plant. A Vietnamese variety is called tia to (TEE-ah TOH).
A member of the mint family, Shiso has a lively spicy taste . When I brush pass the Shiso in my herb garden, I smell tones of cumin and cinnamon.
Fresh shiso leaves are in season in summer, but are sold year-round at Asian, health and specialty markets. Refrigerate like any fresh, green herb until ready to use.
Shiso leaves are used to wrap sushi and as a garnish for sashimi. Leaves are deep-fried for tempura or snipped into salads. Leaves also can be pounded into pesto or made into tea. Red shiso leaves are often pickled and wrapped around umeboshi, pickled Japanese plums, to add flavor and color.