Shiso-Cucumber Pickles

The garden is showing signs of the end of summer. Tomatoes have stopped producing, the soybeans have been harvested, chard is enjoying the cool nights with an extra growth spurt, basis and shiso are going to seed. I’ve not used either the green or red leaves enough this summer! They will soon be gone and I’ll have to pay for a small packet of only a few leaves. This recipe didn’t originally call for red shiso, but I used a little and was pleased that it colored the cucumbers a little.
Shiso (perilla) is a genus of annual herb that is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae. It frequently reseeds itself. There are both green-leafed and purple-leafed varieties, which are generally recognized as separate species by botanists. It is also known as Beefsteak plant, purple mint, Japanese basil, or wild coleus. It is considered rich in minerals and vitamins, has anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to help preserve and sterilize other foods.
Read my earlier post about shiso for more information.

Shiso-Cucumber Pickles
sandwich style

from Easy Japanese Pickling
in five minutes to one day
by Seiko Ogawa

page 14
serves 4

  • 4 small Japanese cucumbers
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ginger, julienned (I used gari, but the original recipe calls for fresh ginger)
  • 20 smallish shiso leaves (cut large one in half and discard the tough center vein)

Slice cucumber diagonally into about ½ inch thick slices. Cut each slice almost in half so you have 2 thin oblong layers attached by a narrow “hinge.”
Combine the cucumber slices with the salt in a plastic bag. Let the cucumber soften for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cucumber slices, rinse, and dry.
Fold some ginger into a shiso leaf and insert a leaf into the “sandwich” cut of a slice of cucumber.
Arrange on a plate, cover with another plate, and drape the whole assembly with plastic wrap. Weigh down the pickles with cans or dishes. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Serve as an appetizer or on a plate with the rest of your meal.

  • Gari (ガリ?) is a type of tsukemono (pickled vegetables). It is sweet, thinly sliced young ginger that has been marinated in a solution of sugar and vinegar.
  • If you can’t find Japanese cucumbers, then substitute: English cucumber = burpless cucumber = European cucumber = hothouse cucumber = seedless cucumber = gourmet cucumber = greenhouse cucumber This foot-long cucumber is pricier and less flavorful than other varieties, it has very few conspicuous seeds, a thinner skin, and a plastic wrapper—instead of a wax coating. There’s no need to peel or seed the cucumber before slicing it. This is a good variety if you focused on looks; you can cut it into round, green edged slices.

8 thoughts on “Shiso-Cucumber Pickles

  1. Simply delicious. I tried to grow this herb from seed, but failed. Not sure why. I think I’ll try it again next spring.

  2. The key might be that the seeds need light in order to germinate so you don’t cover them with soil. Just press them gently against the soil. The plants that volunteer in the garden don’t come up in early spring: the soil has to warm up, around here it’s the end of May.

  3. Pingback: What Can You Do With Shiso?

  4. Tess, is gari, of which I’ve never heard, the same pickled ginger that’s used for sushi and sashimi?

    Your pickles look delicous and pretty, too.


    • Yes, that’s gari. It’s pale pink, in thin slices. It looks sort of like rose petals.
      I’ve tried to make it: it’s marinated (pickled) in sugar and vinegar. But I have never been able to make thin enough slices. Dull knives / mandoline? Old ginger? don’t know. It’s not expensive to just buy, and lasts a long time.

      • It lasts a long time? You don’t know me, Tess. I just adore the stuff.

        When we had access to a number of Asian markets, I made some using that young purplish baby ginger and cut it with a Benriner mandoline which disappeared in a move. It got dull after a while but when new, it was wonderful.

  5. I’m excited by this post Tess! Our own cucumbers are tiny seedlings still…. but this year I have started shiso!! Exclamation marks because I have tried and tried before with no success. But reading your shiso lore and starting early inside and maybe, just maybe the fact that it rained this year. And I have a modest but splendid crop in the vege patch. Now to market to find young ginger and darling little cukes.
    p.s we are getting torch ginger here now from northern Australia – do you have that down your way? It’s a very pretty pink member of the ginger family.

  6. Sweet sweet Blorgie1, how did you choose that name,
    sweet caroline?

    It’s my turn now to experience winter while you plant cucumbers and shiso. For me, it could be exotic and divisive, but it feels as though we are both together in our world, and time and seasons make a common bond.

    Let your shiso seeds have light. Do not cover them with soil. Just press them in, gently.

    Do you think this year will be the last of the drought in Australia?

    I had to Google torch ginger to see what it is. I have not seen anything like that here. I would think that you could get gari? But I never see young tender ginger root here. and is galangal different from ginger?

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