Sunday, June 29, 2014

How to Make a Red Shiso Condiment (Shiso Furikake)

Red shiso is the colorful, somewhat bitter cousin of the green herb shiso and although its culinary applications are limited by an astringent aftertaste, the beautiful purple-red leaves can be plucked from the garden and used for more than floral arrangement filler.

Begin with fresh red/purple shiso leaves, snipped at the base and soaked in cold water. Change the water at least twice, maybe three times, swishing leaves with vigor to dislodge any dirt nestled in the herb's deep grooves.

Carefully remove the leaves from the water, making certain all sand and grit stays on the bottom of the bowl, and place to dry on a clean dish towel. Pat dry, flip leaves and repeat. Transfer well dried shiso leaves to a large baking sheet and arrange in a single layer without overlapping edges. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees F. and place baking sheet inside. Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon (or something of similar circumference) to allow air circulation. You'll want to dry the leaves, not bake them. This method works well for drying other fresh herbs for winter storage; Cafe Drake HRV has had especial success with dill, basil and sage.

Drying times may vary depending on a number of factors but generally count on at least 15-20 minutes. Check the herbs regularly to make sure they're not burning or browning and flip once during the entire process. Above, you'll notice the leaves have become both dry and brittle, requirements for easy grinding. When shiso is dry allow to cool and crumble with your fingers to a fine, flaky texture, sort of like fish food.

Mix the crumbled, dried shiso leaves with coarse salt and sugar to taste; amounts will vary according to personal preference but here's the deal: salt will bring out the zippy, citrus flavors of the shiso while the sugar tames any bitter notes. You now have Shiso Furikake, the classic Japanese condiment used to enhance rice, cold noodle salads, rice balls and even sushi rolls. A little goes a long way so don't be dismayed at the small amount created. Stored in an airtight glass jar at room temperature, the furikake should stay fresh for at  least 2-3 months. But it won't last that long. This stuff's addictive!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this info! I have a 8 big green shiso plants, and am trying to make the furikake tonight, but I'm using a dehydrator.