We grow all types of herbs at Vibrant Valley Farm, from thyme to oregano, basil and shiso. Shiso, also known as Perilla and, once upon a time, "beefsteak plant", is mainly used in Japanese cooking, and you will find it in today's CSA box!
Shiso get its name from the Japanese, derived from the Chinese borrowed word zisu, meaning purple. Those acquainted with shiso may more readily think of the green variety which, in recent years has become so popular in Asian markets, but the name derives from purple shiso's traditional use in coloring pickled ginger, as well as the pickled plum dish umeboshi.
Germinated sprouts adorn sashimi platters and their flower buds, delicately plucked with chopsticks, add flavor to soy sauce at Japanese dinner tables. In Laos, a rice dish of meats, fish sauce, lime leaves, chilies and shiso called Khao Poon is prepared, with or with our coconut milk. It is also dried and turned into flakes to flavor foods the world over.
Shiso was brought to the U.S. By Asian immigrants in the late 1800's. Centuries ago in Asia ceremonies were held before a shiso harvest to honor the plant as food and medicine. It was said that if you trample the plant you would be trampled as well.
A very rich source of omega-3 fatty acid, the oil found in shiso leaves is used more for its medicinal benefit than its flavor. It is high in iron and has been used to abate the symptoms of asthma and the common cold.
Every season the plant attracts butterflies and other pollinators to the farm, and as our season winds down we save the red or purple shiso seed we were once given by a woman named Key. Key lives next door to our old CSA drop-off in Southeast. Key, a 95 year old woman and long time resident of Portland, has many, many stories and an amazing garden. She has grown shiso for decades and was thrilled to share some with us. We are thrilled we can share it with you.
Try out our guest recipe by our dear friend Suzanne Oliver for an amazing summer shiso shrub drink! It's also a great replacement for the mint in your mojitos...
IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:
- snap dragons
- scabiosa stellata
- flowering ammis
IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:
- cherry tomatoes
- walla walla onions
- lemon cucumbers
- purple kohlrabi