Shiso Juice

I am enchanted with the minty aroma of shiso. Did you know there is a red shiso and a green shiso? The green shiso is often served as a garnish for sashimi. If you find it on your plate, often as a backdrop to sliced raw fish, then be sure to eat it. If not by wrapping a slice of sashimi with it, then by using it to pick up the julienned daikon and eat as a palate cleanser between sashimi bites.

Red shiso is used not for its flavor, but more for its color. Red umeboshi get their bright color from red shiso and the leaves can be dried, pulverized, and mixed with salt for a dark purple furikake called Yukari. I happen to love Yukari.

Shiso juice is made from red and green shiso. The green shiso helps to add the unmistakeable aromatic notes that is shiso, as the red provides color and is not rich on the nose. This colorful juice is sweet and tart and the perfect afternoon drink on a hot day or a refreshing aperitif before a meal. It’s a breeze to make and I only regret not making more of it.

Shiso Juice

300 grams shiso leaves (mix of red and green)

2.2 liters water

25 grams citric acid (kuensan クエン酸)

200 grams sugar

Remove the leaves from the stem of the plant. Rinse three to four times in water or until it is rid of dirt.

In a large pot, bring 2.2 liters water to a boil. Add a large amount of washed shiso leaves, about 1/3 of the batch, and cook for up to one minute. Any more than a minute and bitter notes will come from the leaves. Remove the leaves and set aside. This process will be repeated until all of the leaves have been cooked.

The red leaves will lose their color when it hits the hot water. This is normal.

Strain the hot shiso water through sarashi (cheesecloth) as there may be some more dirt.

Add the sugar to the mixture and stir until it dissolves completely.

Now, comes the fun part. Add the citric acid and watch the color change from a rusty red to an intense pink. Check out the colors in the photo above.

Allow the juice to cool to room temperature before putting it in bottles for storage. The juice will keep for up to one year in the refrigerator.

Serve over ice.

akajiso  赤じそ red shiso

shiso しそ shiso

kuensan クエン酸 citric acid

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Shochu 焼酎 – Tantakatan 鍛高譚

Tantakatan

Tantakatan

As a shochu advisor I wanted to share with readers shochu that are worth checking out. The first shochu I will introduce is very interesting. My first day at work at Nihonbashi Takashimaya in the sake department some of my colleagues took me out for drinks. They asked me to pick something from the store to take along for the group to drink. At the time I didn’t know too much about shochu but was definitely curious so I asked my colleague to select a unique shochu. She selected Tantakatan, a shochu made from shiso. I was definitely curious, not only from the base ingredient, but also what a great name. It rolls off the tongue – Tantakatan.

The aroma of the shiso is present, but not too overbearing. However, once on your palate, it is obvious that this is made from shiso. It’s a great starter shochu for someone curious about this distilled spirit. The alcohol percentage is low, only 20 percent, and as it’s usually combined with water and ice the percentage drops to 10 percent, or less than most wine.

Tantakatan  鍛高譚

made in Asahikawa, Hokkaido

Shiso shochu

20% alcohol

Tantakatan is made with a blend of juice from red shiso leaves, dates, and white liquor (or korui shochu), so this is a unique type of shochu referred to as “konwa shochu“.

Cocktail suggestions:

I prefer this on the rocks with water but other options include:

Including a smashed umeboshi with water (or soda).

Having it with cranberry juice, ginger ale or tonic water.

Garnish with fresh shiso leaves.

Shochu 101 – Part Two

Packaging Shochu in Miyazaki

Packaging Shochu in Miyazaki

There are many base ingredients that shochu is made from providing a wide variety of flavor profiles. The most commonly found are:

Imo 芋 – (sweet potato) is highly aromatic, can be smooth, and also slightly sweet on the palate. There are many varieties of sweet potato all contributing their own characteristics. Kogane sengan is one of the more popular potatoes used.

Mugi 麦 – (barley) is roasty, toasty, and often dry. Can be aged in barrels making it fuller on the palate and reminiscent of whiskey, but lower in alcohol.

Kome 米 – (rice) is light, crisp, and very food-friendly. This is a good shochu to start drinking as it is very smooth on the palate.

Soba そば – (buckwheat) buckwheat aromas are strong and it can be round on the palate.

Kokuto 黒糖 – (brown sugar) is sweet on the nose and on the finish. Kokuto jochu is only made on the islands between Kagoshima and Okinawa. This is also a good starter shochu as it is slightly sweet on the palate.

Awamori 泡盛 – (Thai rice) is full body from the black koji. This pairs well with rich and well-seasoned foods of Okinawa where it is produced.

Other base ingredients are:

Kuri 栗 – (chestnuts) can be slightly sweet and aromatic like marron glace.

Goma 胡麻 – (sesame seeds) has a nutty aroma and a round mouth feel. Try this mixed with milk on the rocks for a unique cocktail.

Shiso しそ – (perilla leaves) has the undeniable aroma of minty shiso leaves.

Shochu can also be made from a variety of vegetables, sake kasu, kombu, and much more.

Shochu 101 part one.

Shochu 101 part three.

Shochu 101 part four.