What Does Shiso Taste Like?

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In this article, we’ll answer your most frequently asked questions about shiso. You’ll learn what it tastes like, what kinds of recipes it goes with and how to use it to make your vegan sushi better than ever.

Shiso leaf on white background

Let’s take a look…

What Does Shiso Taste Like? 

Shiso is a name for an Asian herb that’s in the genus Perilla. The red or green leaves look similar to basil and even taste a bit like it, but also like mint and licorice.

There’s even what can be interpreted as a citrus note in shiso, though the primary flavor is more herbaceous and pungent. One thing’s for sure—it’s a flavor that will leave you thinking of a pretty wide variety of herbs and spices you’ve tried.

Shiso Texture 

Shiso leaves are broad, flat and a little bristly with spiny edges. The texture on the palate almost has a kind of crunch, if a flat, fresh leaf can be considered crunchy. Perhaps a more apt way of describing this texture is as crisp.

However, shiso leaf is not often eaten by itself, but rather added to dishes like sushi and soup, so the texture is not typically the most noticeable aspect of it.

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How Do You Eat Shiso? 

Adding shiso to your meals is as simple as chopping, mincing or thinly slicing it and throwing it in salads, soups and sauces. You can also use it as an edible garnish on any entree. 

In (vegan) sushi, shiso is often used in whole leaf form and wrapped up with the rice and veggies. As an herb, it can be used in the same fashion as basil, cilantro or mint in savory foods.

How Do You Store Fresh Shiso? 

To prolong the life of fresh shiso leaves, make sure they’re very dry first. You can accomplish this by blotting them with a paper towel.

Next, you’ll want to place single layers of shiso leaves between dry paper towels or something similar. Some people like to sprinkle salt on the leaves as well.

Then place these layers in a container of your choosing and keep it in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can fill a mason jar with enough water to soak the stems of a bunch of shiso leaves.

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What Is a Substitute for Shiso Leaves? 

Because shiso is so like basil and mint, a combination of these herbs would stand in for shiso leaf quite nicely. Thai basil and purple mint are especially good for the job.

Even cilantro will approximate the pungency of shiso leaf. We do recommend using fresh herbs as dried ones tend to lose the bite and crispness needed to come close to the shiso leaf flavor.

What Can I Do with Shiso? 

Shiso can do a lot of interesting things. Have you ever heard of shiso chips? Watch these short videos to see some of the cool snacks and traditional dishes you can make with this delightful herb.

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If you’re wondering how to add shiso to your sushi, it’s super simple, and this video will guide you through it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Seaweed sheets
  • Sushi rice
  • Shiso leaves
  • Veggies like avocado, cucumbers and carrots

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This video will show you how to make raw vegan chips out of shiso leaves. They’re tinted pink from beet juice, which makes them fun for kids to munch on, too. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can put your oven on the lowest temperature and do the quick-dry method.

You’ll need the following ingredients: 

  • Raw cashews
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Beet juice
  • Sea salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Beet juice or powder
  • Onion
  • Shiso leaves

Wrap Up 

Shiso leaf is an herb like many herbs you’ve tried, yet unlike any at the same time. It combines the flavors of basil, mint, anise and even citrus and cilantro. Use it in salads, vegan sushi and in any dish you’d make with more typical fresh herbs. Don’t forget the tasty shiso leaf “chips”—kale chips have some new competition.

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