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The 5 Best Substitutes for Shiso

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?

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)

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)

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

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

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.

What is perilla similar to?

Perilla is similar to other herbs in the mint family, such as basil and shiso.
It has a slightly sweet taste with hints of cinnamon and anise. Its leaves are large and waxy, which makes them great for use in salads or as a garnish.
Additionally, perilla can be used as an ingredient in soups, stir-fries, and sauces.
Perilla is also known for its rich flavor and aroma, so it pairs well with fish, poultry, pork or beef dishes.
It’s a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisines but can also be found in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cuisine.
Many people find the taste of perilla to be unique and enjoyable.

What does shiso taste like?

Shiso has a unique taste that is difficult to describe.
It has hints of basil, cinnamon, and cumin but also possesses a bit of pepperiness and bitterness.
The flavor profile may vary slightly between red and green shiso leaves.
Generally speaking, the red variety tends to have a more pungent aroma than its green counterpart which is slightly more grassy in flavor.
It’s a versatile herb that can be used to add depth and complexity to many dishes, such as salads, sushi, sashimi, ramen, rice balls or tempura.
Additionally, shiso can be used as an ingredient in sauces or pickles.

Is mint similar to shiso?

Mint and shiso are similar in that they both belong to the Lamiaceae family of plants, but their flavor profiles are quite different.
Mint has a refreshingly sweet and cool taste and is often used as a garnish or an ingredient in teas, cocktails, jellies, sauces and desserts.
On the other hand, shiso has a slightly sweet taste with hints of basil, cinnamon and cumin.
It is used in many Japanese dishes such as sushi, sashimi and noodle dishes, as well as pickles, sauces and desserts.
Both herbs are incredibly versatile and can be used to add depth and complexity to any dish.

What is the difference between shiso and perilla?

Shiso and perilla are both from the mint family, but they are different varieties.
Shiso leaves are larger and have a more flavorful taste, while perilla leaves are smaller with a milder flavor.
Both can be used for culinary purposes, but shiso is generally preferred as it has a stronger aroma and bitter taste.
Perilla, on the other hand, is often used in Asian cuisine as a garnish.
In Japan, shiso leaves are also used to make umeboshi (pickled plums).
Shiso is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Shiso

The 5 Best Substitutes for Shiso
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Basil
  • Korean Perilla (Egoma)
  • Pickled Plum (Umeboshi)
  • Grape Leaves
  • Mint Leaves


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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