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