If you have never heard of shiso before, you are certainly not alone.
Although this herb is commonly used in Japanese cooking, it remains surprisingly unknown worldwide.
The most popular variation of shiso is known as “ohba”.
The leaves are dark green with a mild taste that has been compared to mint or cilantro.
When the leaves are crushed, they produce a slightly sweet and aromatic flavor that pairs well with many kinds of food.
The leaves can be used in any dish such as salads, sushi, rice dishes, and soup.
They add an interesting element to any meal and leave your dinner guests intrigued by the new flavor profile.
However, it can be hard to find or simply expensive as with any ingredient.
This is why you should know about the five best substitutes for shiso.
What is Shiso?
As mentioned in the article, shiso is an East Asian herb that belongs to the mint family.
It has pretty green leaves with a unique flavor and scent.
Most importantly, this article it’s great for making food more delicious.
Shiso is known by many names across its vast range of uses – including Beefsteak Plant, perilla, Japanese Basil, and Wild Basil.
It is an extremely popular herb in Japanese cooking, and it’s most famous for being the main ingredient in Salmon Teriyaki.
However, shiso can be used with all kinds of foods – including sushi, salads, tea-time snacks, soups, and stir-fries.
Not only that but shiso is also used as a natural breath freshener.
Generally, it is safe to add Shiso leaves to food in any amounts you want – ensure that you always wash the leaves before adding them into your dish.
The 5 Best Substitutes for Shiso
Since shiso is hard to find outside of Japan, this article has a list of 5 alternatives that you can use instead.
1 – Basil
Basil is a very popular herb used in many dishes.
Not only does it add a refreshing and floral taste to your meal, but basil also has several health benefits.
It not only looks great with its dark green leaves, but it tastes great too.
This herb is easy to maintain – make sure that you place it in direct sunlight and water it regularly.
When choosing a basil plant to use as a substitute for shiso, opt for either the sweet basil or Thai basil varieties.
These are known to have a strong taste, which is just what you want when trying to replicate the flavor of shiso in your meal.
2 – Korean Perilla (Egoma)
This herb is also commonly known as Japanese shiso and is a member of the mint family.
Its unique aroma and flavor make it a great alternative to shiso if you can’t find it in your local grocery store.
It has pretty green leaves with purple stems and small flowers.
The taste of this herb is quite similar to shiso – it has a slightly peppery taste with a hint of mint.
Usually, people use it in salad dressings or as an essential ingredient for many tasty dishes.
Compared to shiso leaves, Korean perilla leaves are often smaller and more tender.
So, you may need to use more of them to achieve the same impact.
3 – Pickled Plum (Umeboshi)
Umeboshi is a Japanese condiment that’s made from pickled plums.
Traditionally, it is prepared with ume fruit salt-fermented in barrels for at least six months.
This fruit has a sour and salty taste, making it the perfect substitute for shiso leaves in many dishes.
This condiment is often used in many Japanese dishes, including rice balls and sushi.
It may also be mixed with other ingredients to make a tasty dressing or sauce for salads.
So, using this as a substitute for shiso is easy.
Just ensure that you chop the umeboshi finely before adding it to your dish.
4 – Grape Leaves
These leaves are often used as a wrapper for rice and meat mixtures.
When cooked, grape leaves have a unique flavor that some people describe as being similar to the taste of grass.
In addition, they may also be used as a salad or an appetizer.
Most grape leaves are pickled and preserved in either brine or vinegar.
This is so that their freshness can be maintained for a long time.
To use this as a substitute for shiso, try using the grape leaf as a wrapper instead of an ingredient.
Just slice it thinly and grill it quickly before adding your favorite ingredients.
5 – Mint Leaves
Last but not least, mint leaves are a great alternative to shiso.
It is often used as a garnish on dishes, and some people even use it as an essential ingredient in their meals.
Mint leaves have a strong aroma that some describe as similar to pine or menthol.
In addition, they may also be used for making tea.
Mint leaves are very easy to find – especially in the spring and summer months.
Just ensure that you buy them fresh from your local farmers’ market or grocery store.
Mint is quite easy to maintain – place it indoors near a window to receive direct sunlight.
It should stay fresh for about two weeks if kept at room temperature.
Shiso leaves are a staple ingredient in many Japanese dishes, including salads and sushi.
It has a strong aroma and peppery taste, which gives it a unique flavor that you cannot find in any other herb.
So, if you can’t find shiso leaves in your local grocery store, don’t worry.
Just make use of the substitutes mentioned above to recreate your favorite dish.
These substitutes are very easy to obtain and maintain – so remember to save this article as a reference before you head out to your local grocery store.