Perilla (shiso)-bring out the flavor of sushi

What is the Perilla (Shiso)?

Perilla is a traditional Japanese herb with refreshing, aromatic, green-frilled leaves. It is called Shiso in Japanese. The plant has tender, flat and soft-textured leaves that are very popular for using in Sushi. It is also known as beefsteak plant. Perilla is a bushing plant. It is also grown as sprouts or micro-greens. As the plant matures, you can pinch off leaves for use which promotes branching and leaf production.

I am interested in Asian vegetables and herbs. Every year I grow this plant from seed in my garden. July and August are the harvesting time for Perilla here in Alaska. I am going to use it in a sushi roll and make a Shiso salad dressing.

Perilla in my greenhouse
Perilla leaves

Cultivation Tips

Perilla needs fertile, well-drained soil. I used mushroom compost and a 4-6-4 fertilizer. Sow seeds by broadcasting them in a warm, sunny location in Spring after the last frost. Seeds need light to germinate, so cover them with a thin soil layer. Keep soil moist and fertilize as needed. The plant is heat tolerant and prefers full sun to light shade. I have tried growing it both in the greenhouse and outdoors. It grows well in Anchorage. It can be harvested in approximately 60 to 70 days. Snails and spiders can be a pest with Perilla. It can be harvested until the first frost comes. It can also be grown indoors in a pot all-year-around with full of sunshine.

Germination Temperature
68-75 °F

Seed Depth

Seed Spacing

Thin To

Row Distance

Plant Height

Culinary Tips

Perilla leaves are a nutrient rich herb high in calcium, phosphorous and iron. It can be used as a sushi wrap, in tempura and salad mix. The leaves often garnish sashimi. Dried leaves are crushed and sprinkled over rice as furikake or made into tea. Stalks with tiny flowers are served as an edible garnish. Fresh seeds are edible and have the same aroma and flavor as the plant.

Food Preparation and Preservation

There are many ways to prepare Perilla leaves. In the traditional Japanese way, I make tempura and cucumber rolls. Making Perilla leaf dressing is also a good idea for Asian salad greens such as mizuna and daikon. I recommend drying Perilla leaves in a net to make tea and furikake (seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of rice). Perilla leaves can be frozen in a water-filled jar to keep them fresh.

Perilla leaves on sushi rice
cucumber roll with Perilla leaves inside


1. Specialty Produce:

2. Wikipedia:

3. Oklahoma State University Haskell County Cooperative Extension Service:

4. Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service:

5. University of Tennessee Extension:

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3 thoughts on “Perilla (shiso)-bring out the flavor of sushi”

  1. Hi Akladybug,
    I was thrilled to read your article about the Japanese mugwort and perilla leaves. I have been on the search to find english terms for some of the food I ate as a kid. Both of the plants have fragrant smells that I enjoy smelling and eating. Keep up the good work!
    – Jackie

  2. Hi,
    I was wondering that west people didn’t know what they are missing about shiso.
    I, a Japanese always enjoy sashimi wrapping by shiso. I would like to suggest you to eat all maguro, sake, buri and hamachi with shiso.
    Personally I like ponzu on tofu with cutting shiso and a pinch of grated ginger :->

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