Unlike Japan if you want Shiso you cannot buy it in a supermarket, so the only way is to grow it! The first year I tried and failed – none of my planted seeds sprouted! But after a little research I learned that you have to stratify the seeds ie put them in the fridge for a week. Then plant them in a sunny spot, so the contrast of cold & dark to warmth & light prompts them to grow… And it worked!
Last year I didn’t plant any as I had let some go to seed and they started appearing randomly in the garden automagically! This year after a stint in the fridge I’ve planted about 100 seeds, so will be interesting to see what my hit ratio is this time!


For anyone wondering WTF is shiso, you often get served it with sashimi or sushi – it has a distinctive, slightly pepper flavour, and is also very nice in salad. In all of my visits to Japan only one time have I had shiso tempura. While I was doing my artist residency on Shodoshima, the owner of the local Olive Farm (who sponsors the residencies) organised a big dinner and brought a famous local tempura chef in to cater it… and I was luck enough to try a single leaf of shiso, perfectly cooked as tempura… SUPER OISHI!!




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