Shiso and Garlic Infused Soy Sauce


Nami (Just One Cookbook) posted this recipe a long long time ago and I made it shortly afterwards. I loved this aromatic sauce at once and must have prepared it at least a dozen times since then. I intended to write about it much earlier, but somehow kept on forgetting to take a photo. I cannot say I’m happy about this one, but I didn’t want to wait any longer to share my impressions with you and to thank Nami for this surprising discovery, which has become a staple in my house.

As the title says, the recipe calls only for the garlic, the shiso and the soy sauce. They are simply assembled, put into a jar or a container and wait in the fridge for 24 hours. After a couple of days the leaves can be exchanged for fresh ones, the soy sauce added and thus this short-term preserve can be refilled and used for about three weeks. These few ingredients create a surprisingly good and complex sauce, which is a real delicacy for fans of garlic an shiso.

Shiso (紫蘇) or perilla, is widely used in both Korean and Japanese cuisines and you have probably seen it on my blog. I am mad for its herbaceous, slightly bitter flavour and its strong aroma and can no longer imagine many of  my meals without it. Here it has largely contributed to the complexity of flavours and gave this sauce a very original, fresh touch. This sauce is quite versatile. It can be used as a light dip for deep-fried dishes, added to fried rice, as a stir-fry seasoning and I even pour it on steamed rice instead of the standard soy sauce (I’m one of those Europeans who almost always add soy sauce to rice…).  Thank you, Nami, for this wonderful and easy recipe. (Click here to see Nami’s original post).

Shiso is in full season now, so in case you look for some other ideas, here are some of my previous recipes using this fabulous herb:

Tomato and Shiso Salad

Chicken and Shiso Balls

Chicken and Shiso Dumplings

Ume Shiso Chicken Skewers

Pork Rolls and Shiso in Tempura

Teriyaki Pork Rolls with Sweet Pepper, Shiso and Gochujang

TIP: Shiso is available in Japanese and Korean grocery shops, but I was surprised to find it in a Thai/Vietnamese shop and quickly noticed they have it almost every day in stock, so do check all the Asian grocers in your city.

Preparation: 5 minutes+at least 24 hours in the fridge


10 big shiso leaves

3 cloves garlic, chopped

soy sauce (enough to cover the ingredients; I usually add 125 ml or 1/2 cup)

Put the garlic and the shiso leaves in a jar.

Cover with soy sauce. Close tightly and leave for at least 24 hours before tasting.

When the leaves become very dark, you can exchange them for new ones.

You can also keep on filling the container with more soy sauce.

Such a “renewal” can last for about three weeks.




46 Replies to “Shiso and Garlic Infused Soy Sauce”

  1. Nami’s recipes are always such a hit, I am glad you chose such a delicious one 🙂
    It looks lovely my friend and though I don’t see you around anymore much, I am glad you are still in the kitchen being amazing!


  2. I was about to go to bed Sissi and thanks for the lovely surprise! I love this sauce very much too. I haven’t shared many recipes as majority of readers seem like having hard time to get Shiso. I think of sushi restaurant use it as garnish I’m pretty sure people can find it… Anyway, so happy to hear you like this! Much better than simple soy sauce for food like Yaki Onigiri (grilled rice balls). You must try it. Burnt part from then skillet is simply irresistible! Oh no getting too hungry. :-).

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. I am happy you like the surprise 😉 I have still impression that shiso is easier to get than fresh cheese 😉 I love this sauce and have just used it today in a salad… It has completely changed the taste! Thank you once more. Every time I prepare it I think of you 🙂

  3. I was as yet not with Nami when she published this – so it is a case of ‘catch-up’ and that looks like my kind of thing 🙂 ! Now, have to start asking around about this herb called shiso – hm!! The idea is so good, am just wondering whether there are any other more accessible herbs which somehow might enrich garlic-flavoured soy?

    1. Thank you, Eha. I have never tried it with other herbs. If you make some experiments, please let me know how they turned out! (Shiso is not similar in taste or aroma to any other herb I know).

  4. I don’t know, this photo looks pretty darn good to me – so earthy and full of rich tones. The garlic looks multi-coloured with some of the pieces dipped here and there in the soy sauce – so pretty! I’ve yet to try shiso leaves – I’ll have to make it down to our local Asian market one of these days and stock up on all the gorgeous ingredients I come across on your (and Nami’s) blogs! This recipe sounds delicious and seems to last quite a while too with the leave refreshing – so simple and well worthwhile!

    1. You are very kind, Kelly. I was desperate to take it quickly and the light was not the best… I hope you can find shiso because with your creativity I’m sure you would invent extraordinary recipes with it.

  5. I have never seen shiso leaves, what exactly do they taste like? I am very impressed that you are able to source such unique ingredients in Switzerland, Sissi. So many countries have come such a long way from the exotic aisle in the supermarket being the one for spaghetti and maybe macaroni. We are extremely fortunate in Toronto having such a diversified population. We have the largest Italian community outside of Rome, hard to believe, but true. We also have one of the largest Equadorian communities outside of Portugal and Spain (we just had an Equadorian customer in and he mentioned that). Our Indian, Korean and Chinese populations are large enough to have entire communities dedicated to their cultures, that once there, you feel like you are in a different country! I will keep my eyes open for Shiso leaves, I think I would love this as our tastes are very similar.

    1. Hi, Eva. It’s really difficult to explain… It’s very “herbaceous” and sharp, but not violent (not the coriander type of violent for example)… Shiso is not similar to anything I have tasted before although the leaves look a bit like nettle. I also live in a very international city 🙂 It’s small (because Switzerland is small), so there is no Chinatown etc. but there is a surprisingly big number of ethnic food shops because there are many nationalities and people of different origin living here. I can buy lots of products to cook Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese and a bit Korean too. As I said I buy shiso in a Vietnamese-Thai shop which imports it from Thailand (the Japanese shop carries it very rarely). I’m sure you would love shiso.
      I had no idea there were so many Italians in Toronto! It’s incredible.

  6. I am still wrecking my brain about shiso leaves. Saw some that looks very similar to the photo at my favorite Asian super market, actually texted Nami to confirm, but the soy sauce infusion didn’t have aroma, except for the strong garlic taste (which was good anyway). I took a closer look the last time we went to the market, the sign calls it “Sesame Leaf”. Wonder whether they are different?

    1. Jeno, it’s definitely not sesame leaves. When I went once to my Vietnamese-Thai shop a woman was asking for sesame leaves and showing shiso and the guy said “no, we don’t sell sesame leaves”. I hope you will eventually find shiso…

  7. Oh I would love to try this. Not sure if I can easily access shiso leaves from our regular Asian market around our area but if not, I will try Korean or Japanes stores. Definitely this is a great dipping sauce or like what you said, for fried rice dishes. Thank you for sharing your version of Nami’s recipe, Sissi.

    ~ ray ~

    1. Thank you so much, Ray. If you have Korean and Japanese shops, I’m sure they sell it. If I remember well you are also a garlic fan, so you would probably like this sauce.

  8. I’m so excited to find fresh shiso herbs at the oriental salad stall at the farmer’s market! I have yet to try it, but I do know it’s used a lot in japanese cooking, I jsut don’t know how to use it, and how it tastes like. I’m going to get it this sat and try it in this simple sauce!

    1. Shuhan, you will love shiso I’m sure. Try this sauce and try one of the dishes I have linked to above. They are quick and easy and delicious. As a pork fan, you should know pork loves shiso 😉

      1. Now I really feel I must try it! i made korean pork bone stew, gamjatang, on my blog before, a very old post you prob have to search way back, but I left out the perilla because I couldn’t find it was delicious anyway, but now I feel I must have been missing out!

  9. I have no idea what Shiso leaves are and am not at all familiar with the flavor. But now I’m very curious. I’m putting it on my list for the Asian market. I’ll have to see what they have. It certainly looks delicious and with both you and Nami promoting it, it’s got to be good!

  10. I am such a huge lover of garlic, have never tried shiso…
    I will look for it in asian grocery store.. Hope they have it will love to try this..
    this sounds Yum!!

  11. Dear Sissi,

    The more I read your blog, I think you might have a bit of Asian in you. As kids, we loved putting some soy sauce on steamed white rice as well and I know this sauce would be awesome with the garlic aromas. It would also be good for a whole variety of fresh seafood as well.

  12. Another new thing I learned from your post! Thank you, Sissi and Nami! Looking at the picture, I`m now so tempted to make a jar of my own. Going to get some shiso leaves tomorrow 🙂

    1. Thank you, Arudhi. I think you will like this easy sauce and you probably have an easy access to shiso too. By the way, I have fried some aji today. Your aji post has made me crave it so much, I couldn’t stop myself to buy it yesterday (I had to open it, clean it and fillet it on my own though…).

  13. Wow, Sissi…you really are inspired on all the Asian cuisine, delicacies, and fantastic spices. I love to have my garlic marinated in oil infused with sun-dried tomatoes, and rosemary, but never made it Asian style!

    Wonder how you’re going to like the change from the Asian cuisine to the all American, when you will receive not just the giveaway gift Bon Apettit from 1999, but a brand new edition of July, 2012; an extra that I included in the package. I mailed it out to you on this Monday, but have not had a chance to inform you about it until now!
    Hope you will enjoy them:D

    1. Thank you for the compliments, Elisabeth and thank you for your kindness! I am impatient to receive the parcel!
      You know, I do cook Western dishes too, but I often share my present discoveries with you, so it gives maybe an impression that I cook only Asian. On the other hand I must have made maybe five American dishes in my life, so I will be happy to explore the famous magazine. Thank you so much again!

  14. What a wonderful idea – I’m going to have to check out the recipe on Nami’s too… I don’t remember this post at all. Fantastic way of keeping some wonderful, fresh, infused soy sauce “on tap”, so to speak. I love soy sauce so much… so useful in many dishes… even non-asian-style stuff. I bet this would really give a wonderful new hint of flavour to my dishes!

    1. Thank you, Charles. I have had some simple steamed rice and fried fish today for lunch and this sauce poured on rice was fabulous…

  15. Shiso is a very interesting herb but I’ve never seen it or used it, AFAIK. I’ll have to start checking out my local viet/thai/chinese grocery store among the greens in bags, none labelled in English. 🙂 Maybe I should take some pictures and make myself a guide for future shopping expeditions.

    Right now, though, I think it’s time to start exploring another part of the world for cuisines. 🙂

    1. I know what you mean. There are many weird products in Asian shops here too. Even though they put English names, I am totally lost… I’m impatient to see your other ethnic food discoveries.

  16. Oh Sissi, I saw this recipe at Nami’s, and I want to make this, but run out of shiso…beautiful picture!
    Hope you are enjoying your week 🙂

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