Friday, July 21, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging #42

This week, Paz from The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging and I thought I'd continue with the recent Japanese feel and focus on two ingredients.

This first is Shiso:


Shiso is a member of the mint family but is often known as Japanese Basil. I find it's taste is somewhat similar to Thai Basil - it has a distinctive aroma, almost grassy, quite pungent, it's taste is slightly bitter. The leaves are almost papery - they will only keep a few days in the fridge.


These leaves are Green Shiso but you can also find Red Shiso - it is predominately used as a colouring for pickles. Green Shiso is used as a herb and a garnish - if used in tempura, only the underside of the leaf is coated and fried.

The next is Umeboshi:

These odd looking things are salted pickled Ume, otherwise known as the Japanese Apricot. Ume can't be eaten fresh as they are too astringent so they are processed to form Umeboshi, Jam, Liqueur and sweets.

To make Umeboshi, Ume are picked in a mixture of Shochu (a rice based spirit) and salt. Red Shiso leaves can also be used to add colour the mixture turning the Ume bright red. The ones in this photo are the uncoloured versions. Umeboshi is said to have tonic characteristics that aid digestion and keep the intestines clear. It's commonly eaten with rice for breakfast.

The recipe I'll be doing comes from Emi Kazuko and it's a dish that I've had a few times in restaurants and thoroughly enjoyed. This dish is Iwashi No Umé Maki Yaki or Rolled Sardines with Plum Paste. I have a soft spot for Sardines, especially the wonderful West Australian Sardines we're able to get and this dish presents them a little differently. It might not appeal to many but give it a go, you just might like it.


Iwashi No Umé Maki Yaki (Rolled Sardines with Plum Paste)

4 sardines, cleaned and filleted
1/2 teaspoon salt
15 grams Umeboshi (about 2-3)
1/2 teaspoon Sake
1/2 teaspoon Sesame Seeds, toasted
8 shiso leaves, sliced in half lengthways

To make the Plum Paste:
Remove the stones from the Umeboshi and place in a small bowl with the sake and sesame seeds. Using a fork, mash together to form a smooth paste.

Cut the sardine fillets in half - lay them out, side by side, and sprinkle with the salt. Spread a thin layer of paste over each fillet, then top this with a half shiso leaf. Now, if you're a bit unsure about the flavour of the shiso and find it a little too strong then feel free to cut down the amount used in each fillet.

Roll the sardine to form a tight coil before skewering.


To Cook:

You can grill these but I just cook them slowly in a frypan with a little oil until they turn a nice golden brown and are cooked through. Serve them hot.


These would make an excellent starter for a Japanese style dinner - I've served these on extra Shiso leaves.


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  1. AnonymousJuly 21, 2006

    stunning pictures Haalo!

  2. What a fabulous entry for WHB, such an interesting combination of ingredients. And Sam is right, the photos are superb. I wish I could fly on over to your house and have a taste of this!

  3. Hi Sam - Thank you so much!

    Hi Kalyn - there's so many wonderful ingredients out there it's always interesting to find out a little more about them and WHB is a good way of achieving that. If you fly over I'll make sure I'll have some ready.

    Hi Paz - Thanks - I'll make sure there's plenty to go round!

  4. Haalo,
    whao, what a beautiful dish and photo!!! I love sardines a lot, your tangy plum paste sound perfect to go with the fish!

  5. Hello, Haalo.
    Tis a great site. I tried this recipe, and while I could get umeboshi in Hobart, couldn't get shiso. I substituted rocket and mint. Our Japanese exchange student said it was good, but I hope for a chance to try the real thing!

  6. Hi Gattina - Thanks so much! Fresh sardines are just so tasty, it's a shame they seem to have had bad press. I suppose that means there's more for us sardine lovers!

    Hi Foodkitty - Rocket and Mint is a good substitute - Shiso isn't that common here in Melbourne either, I stumbled upon them at a Japanese speciality store (Fujimart at Prahran Market). It's been a few years since I've been to Tasmania but would love to go back. Hobart is one of my favourite cities.

  7. Used the concept of this recipe but substituted chicken breast for the sardine and green onions for the shiso leaf as I was in a hurry and couldn't go across town to buy them. It still tasted awesome. Used a simple ponzu sauce as a dip to accompany a refreshing bowl of somen noodles

  8. Anony - they sound delicious and such a good match for the noodles and ponzu.


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