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September 22, 2004

ugly luxury


Tuesday, September 21

Shiso used to be one of the hardest-to-find herbs (to me, at least) around here, until very recently when I found out that there is one merchant who's selling them (they're quickly gone, though). Shiso they carry look a bit different from the ones I'm used to see in Japan; fresh shiso leaves commonly seen in stores or in our backyards would be of bright green, while the ones I get here are more of purple. Either way, they smell and taste like shiso, so I've got nothing much to complain about.

They are typically sold in a large bagful, and sometime I just can't use them up while they are fresh... well, today I made pesto using shiso and that emptied the bag easily. That's sort of luxury for me, being able to splurge on something that I used to seek for just a while back!

They sure aren't as pretty as arugula pesto, specially when chopped into paste, but tastes good. Nice change to regular basil pesto.

7 comments:

Santos said...

hey there

wow! i just found out that my korean market sells bundles of shiso (bright green kind) for half the price of my japanese market. i was thinking of things i could do with them, i'll try your pesto.

mela said...

That looks ono! Where did you find the shiso? I wouldn't mind trying that out.

chika said...

Hi there,

Santos - are they Japanese or Korean shiso sold at the merket? There's a Korean kind which looks quite like Japanese ones, but they actually taste a lot different... but if it is the same kind, I'm jelous as I like green ones better I guess... if you think the flavor a bit too strong, replace half the shiso with sweet basil, that'll do good, too.

mela - I usually get them at the farmer's market downtown. There is one family carrying them (as far as I know there's only one of them), located at the very end of the market, right in front of a fish vendor. They don't seem like doing business on Wednesday, though... probably on Saturdays only, and shiso can be gone by noon.

Santos said...

hi chika

both the japanese and the korean ones are sold at the markets. the japanese one is so strong, so i often buy the korean kind, but i think i'd like to use the japanese one for the pesto. the price difference is pretty high--a packet of a dozen japanese leaves is almost $2 at the japanese market and $1.50 at the korean one, but the korean ones are only 35cents/12.

i was looking for something else today, but i came across green shiso leaf seeds! you can do a google search, but these are the ones i originally found. you might want to try growing them for your own personal supply. i'm thinking about it myself :-)

chika said...

Hi Santos,

wow, 12 leaves for $2 is pretty expensive...

I have thought of trying to grow shiso on my own, but I heard it could be a difficut job to grow it from seeds; seedlings might be easier if you can get ones, or so I was told. We don't have a yard that we can plant trees or something, and shiso could grow huge.... but oh, personal shiso supply, what a fabulous idea is that!

Santos said...

the expensive shiso is air flown in from japan, the cheaper ones from korea. weird, because japan is def. closer to guam.

funny, i was told the opposite, that shiso is super simple to grow. it loves warm weather, and is best planted in pots, because it doesn't like crowding. oh well. i guess the best way to find out is to try!

Anonymous said...

Hey Santos,

you're absolutely right, shiso really does grow well in the warm weather, once it has sprung and taken roots. We used to have a bunch of shiso plants in our backyard when I was a kid, and they grew like crazy in the summertime. What I heard is it is a bit harder to grow it from seeds, and easier if you have a seedling. But oh well you're right, again, that the best way to figure that out is to try it out yourself!