I don't have a green thumb. I call myself a "plant killer". But I am enjoying having a little garden and I got ambitious this year so I started growing Shiso which is basil like Japanese herb. When I was living in Japan 20 years ago, it was almost impossible to find fresh basil in even in Tokyo. Cooking books usually suggested to use shiso instead. Yet it is a lot different from basil. I associate the taste of shiso with traditional Japanese dishes so I am not a good candidate to describe the taste. However, shiso is nice with non-Japanese dishes, too. I particularly like to cook it with butter
It started to grow nice leaves, so I decided to make cold noodle with shiso for lunch.
1 Cup of water
1 1/2 Table spoon of Sugar
3 Table spoon of Soy sauce
1/2 Tea spoon of Salt
1 Table spoon of Fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 table spoon of Rice wine vinegar
1 Teaspoon of Sesame Oil
1 Japanese Eggplant
10 Cherry tomatoes
3 Leaves of red shiso
3 Leaves of green shiso
5oz. of Somen Noodle
< 1 > Put water and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to boil, then take it out of heat. Put rest of the ingredients for the sauce and mix. Let it cool.
< 2 > Slice an eggplant and cook it in small amount of oil.
< 3 > Slice cherry tomatoes and scallion.
< 4 > Roll shiso leaves together and chop them to skinny strings.
< 5 > Boil Somen. Somen is very thin wheat noodle. Be careful not to over boil it. After it's boiled, run cold water until it's cool.
< 6 > Mix the vegetable and sauce with the noodle and serve.
Somen is very thin and white noodle. It can be found in Asian stores. I use Korean version of it and it tastes very good. Sometimes I saw "Soba" on a menu of Asian restaurant and I was served Somen. Soba is buckwheat noodle. Thin white noodle is Somen. Although this recipe would be nice with Soba noodle, too.
To me, shiso makes dishes very summer-like. Because it's summer herbs. Coupled with summer vegetable (or fruits?) such as an eggplant and tomatoes, it is very refreshing.
I'd love to play with this herb more during summer.