Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Home-made Shiso Drink

Home-made Shiso (Perilla) Drink

To tell you the truth, it was last summer when I promised mom to post about this drink on my blog. Well, time flies, you know. :P

Last weekend I spent good amount of time with my mom, taking photos of her tea ceremony performance. And when I was about to leave, she gave me this home-made shiso drink in a big PET bottle. So I realized that this was the time to do what I had promised her one year ago.

Don’t you ever think that this bright pink color came from artificial coloring. The color was produced by 100% natural ingredient: purple shiso leaves. Some of you may know that purple shiso is used to color umeboshi (Japanese salty plum pickles).

This shiso drink has gained popularity in my hometown in the past couple of years. Now you can see green and purple shiso being grown here and there in town. About half of my mom’s veggie garden turned into a “shiso jungle” this year. I’m not exaggerating… Shiso usually grows like crazy, and mom gave it some fertilizer before summer! :O

Mom kept making this shiso drink for the whole summer this year. Her way seems to be a little different from a "standard" way. She says that it is important to use both green and purple shiso leaves while most shiso drink recipes on the net call for purple shiso only. According to her, if used green shiso only, the juice will turn brownish and a bit flavorless, and if used purple shiso only, the color will be much deeper reddish pink and the taste will be a bit too strong. I guess mom uses only a small amount of the purple ones – maybe apx. 20% of the green ones. Then WHY did she need to plant two kinds of purple shiso?!

The wrinkled type (right) is said to produce deeper pink color than the flat type (left).

It is not difficult to make this drink, but it is just a lot of work. First, you have to pick crazy amount of shiso leaves and wash them all very carefully. Then you add some water and a little citric acid and soak the leaves in the solution overnight until they turn yucky brownish color. Next morning, drain and squeeze out all the juice from the leaves into the brown-colored solution, add sugar and bring to boil. You’ll end up with bright pink shiso juice. (It looks rather red in this photo, though.) My mom drains the juice again, and keeps it in bunch of PET bottles after cooled. Imagine a fridge full of plastic bottles like these...
* Again, this is mom's way. Looks like many people just boil shiso leaves in a pot instead of soaking them in citric acid solution overnight. Btw, I asked mom not to use an aluminum pot for this.

The drink is quite strong as it is, so we always add some water and ice to thin it down. It makes a refreshing and healthy after-bath drink.

Well, now summer is almost over, and so is mom's summer ritual with this fragrant herb and pet bottles. (It's about time she and her friends should take a break from this drink.)



Carolie said...

Ooooo...it looks so pretty! I'd love to make some...where do I find citric acid in a Japanese store? What do I need to ask for--the pronunciation please?

Thank you!

ghanima said...

Gomen, I'm such a stranger to foreign flavours: what does it taste like?

Anonymous said...

Dear obachan,

i am suddenly intrigued by your term 'after-bath drink', is it a popular practice in Japan? what other after-bath drinks are there? it sounds delightful!!

Regards, from May.

obachan said...

It’s called クエン酸 (kuen san) in Japanese. I guess you can find it at a big supermarket or baking ingredients shop, but if not, the best place to go is a drug store. It’s white powder.
Like I wrote in the post, mom’s way is a little different. I found a couple of “standard” recipes on the net when I googled with “shiso juice,” and they don’t require soaking the leaves overnight.

You mean citric acid? Shiso? Citric acid is supposed to taste sour. And shiso… Mmmm…I don’t know how to describe it. It is refreshing and minty, in a sense, but not exactly like mint. The drink tastes sweet and sour.

If you like shiso, I think you like this drink. I don’t like too much shiso flavor, so I liked the version my mom made this year. Since her shiso grew too big because of the fertilizer, it became a little flavorless. So mom’s drink didn’t have strong shiso flavor like it did last year, and I liked it that way.

Well, I don’t know if they really call it “after-bath drink” but I guess good many people do drink something cold after taking a bath. It’s no surprise because usually we soak in the tub filled with rather hot water, so we get pretty hot and thirsty. Popular drinks may be beer, isotonic drink and … could be milk? Oh, that reminds me. It used to be a popular practice to drink fruit-flavored or coffee-flavored milk (bottled) after taking a bath at a public bath house in Japan. When I talk about this with someone around my age or older, I often get "OH! Yeah! I did that, too!! Oh I miss that fruit-flavored milk!" kind of response.

Anonymous said...

Hi Obachan - What do you think a Shiso-tini would taste like? Perhaps a bit too dry? Or perhaps something else? Sorry, don't want to sound like a lush, but that's the first thing that I thought after reading your wonderful post....

Lysithea said...

Hi Obachan, the leaves are beautiful! I've never seen such rich purple and pink coloured leaves before! We only have green green and green here.

Would the shiso drink taste bitter if it's only soaked by itself? How about add some lemon to it?

By the way .... just wondering how old you are? :) Don't have to say if you don't want to! :) :)

Unknown said...

hi Obachan ,
i envy you again because it is difficult for us French to find some shiso , may be i should grow some next year ? what do you need for soil , sun ? , water ? lot'of ?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Obachan, that was nice to know :-)

from May

obachan said...

I guess it would taste like martini and shiso. Sorry :P It reminds me… I think someone either tried or mentioned about the idea of shiso-infused vodka when I posted about my grape-infused vodka. My guess is that shiso-tini would be dry, like you said, and those who like shiso would like the drink, too. I don’t know if I would want to give it a try…

I would never make this drink without adding citric acid or lemon. (Lemons contain citric acid anyway.) Oh, and certain amount of sugar.
About my age -- I’m not going to tell you, but I can give you a clue. I was born in the year of dragon. ;)

I’ve heard that shiso is a pretty care-free plant to grow. But the ones I grew in my balcony garden always suffered some kind of disease, so I guess it doesn’t like too much heat and humidity. How about taking a look at this site??

You are welcome. ;)

obachan said...

Hi Jonny,
Yeah, I remember your Korean shiso. I wonder what Korean shiso drink would taste like.

ThreeTastes said...

I just discovered your site, so sorry I'm late to the game! What a wonderful way to use shiso — I love the flavor. I think I'll have to wait until I live in a cooler place and can grow my own plants — here we pay $2 for 8 leaves! ; (

Thanks for a great post and pictures. Will enjoy browsing through your archives.

Unknown said...

Oh, shiso drink! I remember seeing that when I lived in Japan. My friend's grandma who lived out near Takayama made it. I did find it quite strong.

I don't know about how things are in Kochi, but I know that many of my friends and I drank milk tea or strawberry milk after going to the bath house, or after visiting onsen.

I love your site - it reminds me of good memories from when I lived in Japan, and from my childhood.

obachan said...

Hi! Sorry for the late response.

Mmmm...$2 for 8 shiso leaves! :O
Why don't you move to Japan?

I heard that "fruit gyunyu(milk) after taking a bath at a sento" was the "classic" style.
Hope you keep coming back to my site. :)

Gilles S.C. Lamant said...

I am trying shiso (seeds) infused spirit... I think the fresh seeds have a strong perfume (different than the leaves), so, after preparing several batch of "limoncello", I decided to try ... Shiso-cello... ;-) I opted for not adding red leaves... I want to see if the alcool will preserve the nice green...
Has anybody tried anything like this before ? Is there any kind of positive/negative herbal properties I should be aware of... Of course, this is 150% proof, so, I don't think anyone will drink a lot in a single time... but just wondering...

obachan said...

I have never tried it myself, but looks like some people do make shiso-infused liquor here in Japan. I found several different methods on the net, but basically, for aojiso (green perilla) infused liquor, they seem to use Japanese distilled spirit called "shochu" (alcohol content 35%), crystal sugar and green shiso leaves. Some add sliced lemon and/or honey, too.

Some said "Take out the shiso leaves after a week," others said three months. Most of them said that the longer you let it mature (after taking out the leaves), the milder it tastes.

I guess you're going to have to give up a refreshing green color. This site
shows how it was at the beginning and how brown it turned out in a month. Other photos of store-sold aojiso liquor also look somewhat brown,
so I guess it can't be helped. It may make a difference used different liquor and added lemon, but still I doubt if it would keep the green color of the shiso leaves.

The Japanese sites I found said that shiso liquor suppresses cough and has a diuretic effect. (But they were all hearsay, so be careful.) I don't know any negative properties.

viagra online said...

It looks so pretty and I think I would love this drink!

Thank you!

Gilles S.C. Lamant said...

One year and a bit more later...
The shiso spirit was quite... awful when I first tried it... (beside the color) - so I sort of forgot about it for nearly one year... The other day, I was cleaning the liquor cabinet and found it... decided to try it... well... it had smoothed down a lot, and was quite... nice actually. And yes, it does stop caughing... amazingly efficient... Now... since it is made with real alcool... and very little added syrup (I am watching my sugar level)... it is still - strong - so no abuse here... But it is good !