Shiso, also called perilla, is part of the mint family, but it has a distinct spiciness and pungency. It is a common ingredient in Japanese food and also is used in Korean cuisine. It comes in stronger-flavored green and milder purple varieties.
Shiso is beginning to gain traction on U.S. menus, particularly in one of its traditional roles as a sushi accompaniment, but also in cocktails and as a flavoring for a variety of proteins.
Found mostly in fine-dining restaurants and ethnic independents, this Flavor of the Week is considered a premium ingredient and a favorite among Asian consumers, according to market research firm Datassential.
Click through this month’s slideshow for more information about shiso, and two menu ideas.