Flower of the Day – Red Perilla

On August 24, 2021, the Opening Ceremonies of the Tokyo Paralympic Games marked the beginning of the sports events, which will be taking place over the next twelve days.  Moving forward, some medals have already been awarded; in particular, host team Japan has achieved two medals in swimming (one silver, and one bronze), Canada has two bronze medals (cycling, and swimming), and Mexico has secured one bronze medal in swimming. 

These games generally get insufficient attention, compared to the Olympic Games; to acknowledge this altruistic event, and in honour of the hosting country, I am featuring a plant extensively used in Japanese cuisine, known as Aka Shiso –  Red Perilla (Perilla frutescens var. crispa, red):

001 Red Perilla leaves

Their deep coloured leaves often serve as a canvas to highlight other foodstuffs on a serving plate, or to impart pink to red tones to several preparations, for example, my pink iced tea limeade; probably the most popular use in Japan is to season and colour Japanese pickled plums (umeboshi):

Japanese pickled plums with red perilla leaves – Umeboshi (picture in my kitchen, from store-bought jar, 2021)

 


Back in the 1950s, these very traditional Japanese preserves served as the inspiration for a very popular Mexican condiment called Chamoy, and homemade recipes now include modifications for natural colouring, using ingredients readily available in Mexico, such as hibiscus flowers (shown below, next to red perilla):

Dry hibiscus flowers, left, compared to fresh red perilla, right (my kitchen, 2021)

Stay tuned for more on this, including recipes, in my next post.


I am joining Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge, coincidentally featuring Hibiscus. 

14 thoughts on “Flower of the Day – Red Perilla

      1. I don’t think I prepare jamaica correctly as I don’t like my own but when others prepare it, it is good. I know you’re supposed to soak it first to get the dust off. Perhaps I don’t soak it long enough.

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      2. I think rinsing in cold water should be sufficient. What I have heard is that you should start with the clean flowers in cold water, and bring them to a boil together, then simmer at low heat until the flowers start to sink to the bottom of the pot.

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  1. You can check this out further, but shiso has a reputation as being an herbal medicine capable of preventing liver flukes from attaching. I’ve heard that shiso was frequently used in dishes that might accompany raw fish products.
    I am vague on the details. I got the information from an 80-year-old sensei through an interpreter over dinner at am Iaido event some years ago.

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    1. Oh, what a treat it must have been to share a meal with the sensei! Yes, you are right, the green variety (Ao shiso) is routinely served with sashimi (raw fish) for the purpose of preventing illness and aid digestion; have you noticed those pieces of green plastic with a serrated edge in many packaged sushi? They are supposed to look like green shiso, hehe.

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