There are so many names for this specific herb. Many people know them by Shiso leaves, Perilla leaves, Sesame leaves or in Vietnamese they are called Tiá Tô. These leaves are medium to large and broad and round to spade-shaped, averaging 7-12 centimeters in width.
The leaves have a slightly fuzzy or hairy texture and are vibrant green on the top and green to purple on the other side.
Perilla leaves have jagged edges that taper to a point on the non- stem end, and the plant’s stems are green, square, and hairy. Perilla leaves are highly aromatic and are grassy herbaceous in flavor with nuances of mint, basil and star anise. The flavor of perilla leaf carpeted with notes of star anise or licorice is pleasing like any other herbs.
History of Perilla Leaf
Shiso leaves are native to the mountainous regions of Asia and were first documented in a medicinal formula dating back to the Song Dynasty. It was noted in a book called Taiping Huimin Hejiju Fang, written in 1110 BCE.
They were then spread throughout the rest of Asia via trade routes and immigrants and were brought to the United States in the late 1800s. Nowadays, Perilla leaves can be found at fresh markets and specialty grocers in Asia, Southeast Asia, and the United States. Shiso is a member of the mint family and has the characteristic square stems and four stamens of most species in the family.
Shiso leaves can be used in both raw cooking and cooked applications such as stir-frying, sautéing or boiling. They are used as a wrap for rice, barbecued meats, sushi, and vegetables and are also popularly used in Korea to make kimchee by marinating the leaves for an extended period with soy sauce and herbs and spices.
Shiso leaves can be sliced raw and added to salads or sliced and mixed into a savory pancake, bread, and stir-fries. They can also be deep-fried in batter and consumed as a crunchy and tasty side dish. The flavor of Shiso leaves pairs well with different kinds of spices like chili, garlic, soy sauce, tofu, grilled meats such as fish, chicken, and beef, citrus, plums, and many more. Perilla leaves will keep for a couple of days when wrapped in a damp paper towel and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
The intense flavors are perfect for cooking seafood such as shrimps and fish dishes. Aromatic leaves are also widely used in pickling. Plants can be grown ion open fields, gardens, or containers. Vietnamese Cuisine uses different Shiso varieties similar to the Japanese Shiso , but with greenish bronze on the top face and purple on the other side. In Vietnam, it is called TiáTô and it is usually eaten as a garnish in rice vermicelli dishes called bun and several stews and simmered dishes. Personally, anytime I make Korean food at home, I have some Shiso / Perilla / Sesame / Tiá Tô on the side to be eaten raw.