You may have heard of Shiso leaves in many Japanese dishes like sashimi and takikomi-Gohan. Some people also call it the Japanese basil because of their similarity in taste and look.
Perhaps Shiso is not a famous ingredient in American cuisine, but its use in Japanese recipes has made it an iconic ingredient representing Japanese cuisine. The Shiso leaves have a flat and broad shape with curved edges. It is often shredded on various Japanese dishes to provide a beautiful flavor layer to your dish.
If you’re new to Shiso, let’s find out what this amazing leaf is and which Shiso substitute you can use instead!
What Do Shiso Leaves Taste Like?
When holding a Shiso leaf, you can find a crunchy, firm texture on these fresh Shiso leaves. However, Shiso texture is not known as the reason why people love using it in dishes. The bright and mysterious flavor of Shiso keeps people in the loop of wanting more of its delicate taste.
People describe the interesting flavor of Shiso as a combination of Cilantro, cinnamon, anise, basil, and mint with a fresh rain fragrance. When added to your soup and sushi, it brings a citrusy, pungent and refreshing taste to your mouth that works amazingly with cold and hot dishes.
Shiso leaf is not known to be served alone. Instead, it plays the spice role that brings out the flavors of other Japanese ingredients and creates a beautiful tasting layer for your tempura, meat, salad, and noodles.
Recommended Shiso Substitute
Shiso is an excellent ingredient that breathes a Japanese aroma into your dishes. However, it is not a common ingredient in the US. If you don’t know “What can I used instead of Shiso?”, then check out a perfect Shiso substitute for your Japanese dish below!
Shiso is a member of the Lamiaceae family, along with mint and basil. So, there is no doubt that mint is a strong green Shiso leaf substitute. Furthermore, mints are greatly popular in the US, so you can find them lying in a local grocery store. Mints are known for their fresh aroma, similar to Shiso. Sometimes people also call Shiso the perilla mint and purple mint as well. That’s how identical they are!
When used in cooking, mint is mildly sweet and peppery, which is similar to Shiso. As it is a popular flavor, you can use it in various dishes without disappointing any picky people. You can use mint as a spice in many soups, noodles, sushi, and sashimi. However, you need to remember that mint leaves are smaller than Shiso, which is not ideal for wrapping meat.
2. Thai Basil
The next one on the list is Thai basil. As basil belongs in the mint family, it is easy to understand why Thai basil would fit a Shiso replacement role. As you can tell from the name, Thai basil is a famous ingredient in Thai and Southeast Asia cuisine.
Thai basil has a purple color like Shiso, which can mimic the look of shredded Shiso on your soups. In cooking, Thai basil has a minty, spicy flavor like Shiso, which you can add to any Shiso-based recipe for an original taste.
Related articles: 10 Best Alternatives Used As ASubstitute For Thai Basil In Cooking
3. Grape Leaf
Another excellent Shiso leaves substitute is grape leaf coming from Mediterranean cuisine. Grape leaf has a broad and smooth surface that you can use for wrapping meat like Shiso.
Their texture is firm enough for any long-cooking recipe. Bringing fresh grape leaves will have a tanginess and mild peppery taste that works with many Shiso dishes. You can use the same number of grape leaves to substitute for Shiso leaves as the recipe requires.
Cilantro has a bright green color leaf with a soft texture, unlike Shiso. However, one bonus point for this ingredient is its popularity, as you can find it in any local store. Regardless of their look, this thin leaf is a flavorful and fragrant substitute for Shiso leaf to have in your dishes.
When mixed with your soup, Cilantro has a lemony, grassy, and potent flavor that goes perfectly in many umami noodles dishes. You can also try Cilantro on your Japanese rice and sashimi for an extra tasty experience.
5. Korean Perilla
Many people think of Shiso as perilla mint, so Korean perilla is a must-have item on our Shiso substitutes list. This type of leaf is known famously as a fundamental ingredient for wrapping Korean grilled meat. As it is an exotic leaf, you can find it in Korean grocery stores.
With the big and thick leaf covering the steamy and flavorful meat, this is a combination that you don’t want to miss in your cooking journey. Korean leaf may have a grassy and mild taste, unlike Shiso, but they can still work if you’re using it for wrapping meat.
Furikake might sound strange at first, but you might want to put it in your Japanese cooking note. This dried seasoning is widely used for sprinkling on top of the rice. The flavorful seasoning results from red perilla, sugar, salt, and plum, making it a sweet, minty, and savory taste like Shiso.
Although it is not a leaf shape, furikake can be used extensively in many soups, stews, and rice dishes. You can also sprinkle it on top of pasta for an extra taste.
7. Kaffir lime leaves
Kaffir lime leaf has a distinctive look of 2 leaves attached. The oval shape is one, and the heart shape for the other leaf. Fresh kaffir leaves have a bright green and shiny surface with a nice citrusy aroma. The flavor is sweet, tangy, and fresh, like a lemon that can balance any heavy dish. You can find it plenty in Southeast Asian cuisine.
Like Shiso leaf, you can cook it for a long time to extract its pleasant flavor or shred it on top of your rice and noodles.
Another great Shiso substitution is Myoga coming from Japan. It is also known as Japanese ginger with a similar taste to Shiso. When adding Myoga to your dish, you can find a refreshing and bitter flavor with a mild pungent note that can be added to your Shiso-based recipes.
Although the scent may not be what you would find in Shiso dishes, the taste of myoga can spice up your dish tremendously. You can make soba noodles and sashimi with some minced Myoga on top.
9. Green Onion
Lastly, green onion is also one of the potential Shiso alternatives because of its convenient placement in local stores and versatile flavor profile. The green onions can have a mild aroma with a grassy, slightly sweet, and pungent taste.
Although it may not come across as the most accurate replacement of Shiso, you can use green onions to add colors and season your sashimi or noodles with a refreshing flavor.
Shiso is one of the amazing ingredients from Japanese cooking. Its delicate yet complex taste adds an amazing layer to many of your bland dishes. Nevertheless, it is not the easiest to find a leaf in the US, so you might find a Shiso substitute instead for mastering the art of cooking Japanese recipes.