Posts Tagged ‘perilla pesto’

The majority of the food posts on this blog have been inspired by my tendency to see an exciting new ingredient in semi-bulk at the “farmers’ market” at my gym, buy it, and then think, “Wait, what do I do with a whole bag of Hachiya persimmons?!”

But I made a (delicious) mistake. Japan has a variety of leafy greens, including spinach (ほうれん草), komatsu-na (小松菜), and bok choy, in addition to cabbage and lettuce. I was at the “farmers’ market” and saw a bag of what appeared to be spinach. Now, normally, I’d check the sign to make sure of the price for the product–and hence read the product’s name–but since I thought I had correctly identified it by sight and the price was on the bag, I plunked down my 100 yen (ridiculously cheap) and took it home to use in my bento.

I got home and set to making my salad when I noticed that, not only was this plant matter not spinach, I actually had no idea what it was. At all. It didn’t look familiar and I couldn’t pinpoint the flavor. To add insult to injury, the bag wasn’t labeled (farmers’ market!) AND my hard drive had crashed, so I was connecting to the wireless on nothing but an American iPhone with limited battery power.*

I hopped on iPhone AIM and started chatting to some friends. Thankfully, one of my friends recognized the stuff as しそ (shiso), or Japanese perilla–more specifically, red shiso (赤紫蘇 akajiso). More bitter than its Korean counterpart, shiso is described as a cross between basil and mint, and used as a garnish. Normally, when I see shiso at the store, it’s the green variety, sold 3-5 leaves at a time. I had a SACK of the red kind. Great, I thought. I have like four cups of a garnish that I can’t use as the base of a salad, and I don’t have good enough internet to look up recipes.

Red Shiso (Akashiso); Photo from Wikipedia

I froze some of it for seasoning, but I didn’t really want a whole freezer for of shiso–especially since my refrigerator is Japanese-sized. Which is to say that I have to locate it with a magnifying glass. Luckily, a certain someone sent me this recipe for Korean perilla pesto, and I figured, well, what the hell, it was 100 yen–might as well try to do this.

Click for the recipe and photos.

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