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 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.
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.
1. Specialty Produce: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Perilla_Leaves_8555.php
2. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perilla
3. Oklahoma State University Haskell County Cooperative Extension Service: http://www.oces.okstate.edu/haskell/what-is-perilla-mint-1
4. Purdue Univesity Cooperative Extension Service: https://www.btny.purdue.edu/WeedScience/2010/BeefsteakPlant.html
5. University of Tennesse Extension: https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/W135.pdf