I wanted to make Shiso juice for a long time and finally, I made it. Shiso is my favourite Japanese herb. Anytime I see shiso, I get tempted to buy it and my daughter pulls me away because I have bought so many of the plants already. But I love shiso so much that I always buy more. There is a herb stall that sells shiso at the local market that I often go to after an early morning walk with my run buds. They had red shiso a couple of week ago. So I bought 2 of them.
Shiso can be found as Shiso, or it is called Perilla in Australia. The botanical name is Perilla frutescens. I am not a botanist but I know because I have searched where I can get shiso or shiso seeds so that I can grow them in Australia. Anyway, there are two types of shiso; red and blue. They are more like purple and green but in Japanese language they are called Aka(red)jiso and Ao(blue)jiso.
Siso is a little bit like basil but it belongs to the mint family. Aka(red)jiso is usually used for colouring and flavouring pickled plum; Umeboshi. I am from the Wakayama prefecture where the premium plum is called Nanko Ume produced. My grandma had a vege patch where she had a few plum trees and underneath the plum trees, this akajiso was growing like weeds. She would never imagine that I paid for 2 akajiso plants, she would be outraged actually.
I needed probably 10 times more of the akajiso leaves to make a decent amount of syrup. It is so pretty in colour and I don’t know any other way to use akajiso apart from making pickled plum and I don’t have Ume here so I managed to make a little bit of syrup to enjoy a beautiful summer drink of Japan.
It is said that this drink is good for those who are dieting. The rosmarinic acid contained in Shiso suppresses the digestion and absorption of sugar and fat and it prevents the rise of blood sugar, however, this syrup does contain sugar so drinking too much is not a good idea. Japanese ladies only drink this occasionally and only one small glass of shiso juice a day.
- 250 g Akajiso red shiso leaves
- 250 ml water
- 60 g light muscovado sugar
- 1 tbs rice vinegar
- Prepare shiso leaves to boil. Wash and trim the shiso leaves.
- Bring 250ml water in a large sauce pan and add the prepared shiso leaves.
- Turn the heat down to medium heat and cook the shiso leaves for about a few minutes. The leaves colour will change from purple to greenish colour.
- Drain the shiso leaves with a strainer and squeeze the leaves to extract as much as you can. It is hot so be careful not to burn your finger, I used a spoon to extract all liquid.
- place the drained liquid back to the saucepan and bring it simmer.
- Add the sugar, and when the sugar dissolved, turn the heat off and add 1tbs of rice vinegar in.
- Cool it down and keep it in a clean bottle in a fridge. If you sterilize the container which you keep the syrup, it will last about 6 months in the fridge.
- To make shiso juice, place 1-2 tbs of the syrup and pour about 200 ml of mineral water or fizzy soda water with ice cubes.