Shiso and Cider Vinegar – A Heavenly Match

Over the years I’ve grown quite a lot of that most wonderful annual herb, Perilla, Shiso or Beefsteak Plant. Traditionally, it’s found in Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese dishes, and Shiso is its Japanese name. In particular the green variety (Perilla frutescens) which I prefer, seems to like my greenhouse very much. The unusual aroma and flavour is a welcome addition to summer salads in my household. Flavour-wise, I think it plays a similar role to Basil in Mediterranean dishes, and it is sometimes sold as Japanese Basil. I just wash the leaves thoroughly, put them through the salad spinner and chiffonade them. We also love it as a flavouring for steamed rice and stir fries and the whole leaves for tempura.

Pickling liquid and Shiso leaves in a jar

Pickling liquid and Shiso leaves in a jar

 

This year I’ve had a fabulous crop and I began to wonder what else I could do with it. That got me thinking about other Japanese flavours and what would happen if I started experimenting with a pickle. In Japan, Green Shiso is salted and the whole leaves are layered in jars for use during the cooler months and the Red Shiso is used to make Umeboshi but I found a wonderful cucumber recipe at Food52 that I’ve adapted for my needs. I wanted to have pickled leaves I could use whole as wrappers or shred up as required and this looks like a winner!

I made this yesterday 🙂

Refrigerator Pickled Shiso

15-20 large Shiso leaves           1/4 cup sugar                       1 tablespoon salt

3 tablespoons Mirin                1 cup Apple Cider vinegar       A clean pickle jar and lid (300-400g)

Wash the Shiso leaves carefully to remove any grit, pat dry or put through a salad spinner to remove excess moisture. Lay the leaves on top of each other and very carefully roll them, feeding the entire roll into the jar. In a non-metallic mixing bowl whisk the other ingredients thoroughly until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

Pour this over the Shiso leaves, close firmly and refrigerate. This will be ready to use in a few hours but will benefit from leaving for at least a couple of days. I have no idea how long the leaves will last in the refrigerator but as I use a few and make room, I plan to add some thin slices of the little cucumbers that are starting to fruit.

I confess I took a nibble this morning and it’s as wonderful as I hoped it would be. The big factor for me is the flavour of the pickling liquid, which is very similar to a dipping sauce. Also, I used some of the vinegar I made from a failed cider about three months ago and it’s pretty special just on its own! I will write a post about processing the vinegar with details and photos soon.

I’m also planning to dehydrate some of the crop, grind it and mix with a little shredded nori and toasted sesame seeds to make my own furikake and I’m considering getting a fermenting jar and making Korean Gaennip Kimchee. There’s also an idea brewing in my mind about making Shiso oil, similar to the Basil oil I make relentlessly through summer. I’ll keep you posted on that 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ve finished and submitted my assignment and I’m back to my wonderful people at OAK Tasmania tomorrow – summer holidays are over for me. But the days are still long and luscious for gardening and cooking.

Stay well and happy friends,

Debra ❤

Beautiful Shiso

Beautiful Shiso

A Day of Quiet Bliss – Day 29 NaBloPoMo 2015

It was very overcast and quite humid in Hobart most of today. Although I was supposed to go to an event nearby, I decided to stay home and potter around the garden. The girls were very pleased because this meant lots of extra treats for them and they rewarded me with eggs as usual. Boudica Bunny is also eating enormous amounts at the moment and all the babies are out and starting to get the hang of this eating solid food caper.

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I potted up more basil, chillies and Green Shiso (Perilla fruitescans var. crispa), a wonderful Japanese annual herb, which I primarily use in stir fries and salads. I’ve grown it in the past but never had such a fabulous strike rate as I did with this year’s seed supply. It’s looking wonderful and already has that unmistakable flavour and aroma. I find it likes a rich potting mix and lots of warmth for quick growth, similar to basil.

And then there was the completion of half the “corner of shame”. This is a classic before and after situation.

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Before

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After

Admittedly, we’re only half way there but that’s a lot further than we were a few weeks ago!

After removing the worst of the perennial weeds, I put some dolomite limestone over the area and covered it with several layers of cardboard.  Then we laid some cotton mats, donated by family members, that were old and worn and heading for the rubbish tip. (I think half our garden is recycled!)

A thick layer of coarse sand went over that and it was topped with some well composted native bark mulch, which I’ve found considerably less acidic than pine bark mulch. We did the same thing behind the chicken house and I’ve planted two Australian Tea-Trees (Leptospermum sp.) there to provide some extra wind protection for the ladies who lay.

The weeds will grow back – but not as quickly or as vigorously as they have in the past. I want to plant a couple of English Lavender here in the next few days and I’m planning to put netting or shade cloth above the fence to give a little more height for growing climbers in tubs and privacy both for and from our neighbours. Next spring, this is the likely spot for my beehive, angled in towards the garden.

I also finished the garlic crop, which has been curing inside the last two weeks. It’s now cleaned up, the tails have been clipped and it’s in three plaits, hanging off the laundry/kitchen door. It’s quite a decent amount this season, considering I’ve used and given away at least half a dozen or so heads already – and there’s more in the ground that needs pulling!

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Tomorrow is back to music work and teaching, the beginning of my birthday week, first day of my next university semester and the last day of NaBloPoMo – and I’m picking up my birthday present to myself tomorrow too 😀