Shiso and Bacon Fried Rice


This is not ordinary fried rice, but a delightful example of the Japanese excellence in simplicity. Few humble ingredients, quick and easy preparation, subtle seasoning and a sensational result. Even though I have prepared it at least a dozen times this summer, each time I take a first bite I am astounded by the flavours’ complexity and perfect choice of ingredients. I have found this wonderful recipe on Humble Bean blog, a source of refined, but unpretentious Japanese dishes, where I have also discovered the unequaled Tomato and Shiso Salad, my staple during the whole tomato season. Thank you, Azusa, for another extraordinary shiso dish idea.

Shiso (紫蘇) or perilla is a herb widely used in both Korean and Japanese cuisines. I am addicted to its herbaceous, slightly bitter flavour and its strong aroma and apart from the above mentioned salad, you might have seen here some other delicious ways to use it. I know some of you either don’t know shiso or have difficulties in finding it, or both. For those who don’t have nearby Japanese or Korean grocers, I have good news: shiso can also be found in Vietnamese shops (the one I buy is imported from Thailand). Those who cannot find a Vietnamese grocer either, can prepare this simple, but surprisingly flavourful meal using any other herb which supports well warm dishes and which is strong enough to face the powerful scent and flavour of smoked bacon. I haven’t tried it yet, but I have some replacement ideas if anyone is interested.

I have modified the original recipe, stripping this dish of the scrambled egg (after numerous meals, I realised I preferred it either “pure” or with a fried egg on top with a runny yolk) and slightly modifying the proportions. Click here to see Azusa’s exact recipe.

Talking about bacon… I wanted to share with you something I never get tired of (and believe me, I have watched it more than once),  with a special dedication to all the bacon fans:


Now you know one of my biggest secrets: Ron Swanson is my idol and role model.

TIPS: One day old rice gives here the best results (or even two days’ old according to Azusa), but definitely not freshly cooked rice. If you don’t have one day old rice, cook eat several hours beforehand, leave it to cool down and refrigerate for at least one-two hours.

Very cold rice might be difficult to break into grains, so I always microwave it just before adding to the wok. Warm rice is easier to incorporate.

Azusa says this dish is particularly good with brown rice. Since I’m not a big fan of it, I haven’t tried this version yet, but if you like brown rice, it’s worth remembering.

Preparation: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

150 g (about 4 oz) cooked rice (the best one is leftover from the day before, but it has to be at least cooked several hours beforehand and refrigerated)

1/2 small onion

2 thin strips of smoked bacon

5 big shiso leaves

1/3 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1 teaspoon sake

1 teaspoon soy sauce (or more if using low-salt soy sauce)

freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon sesame oil (to add at the end)


(1 egg)

Cut up the bacon into bite-sized pieces.

Fry it until crispy.

Put aside on paper towels.

Slice the onion and fry it with ginger until the onion softens.

Warm the rice in a microwave (it will help to separate the grains).

Add the rice to the onion and stir-fry, separating the grains  for about 30 seconds.

Add the bacon, the sake, the soy sauce and stir-fry until everything is hot.

(If the bacon is not very salty, you might need to add salt. Do not exaggerate with soy sauce, which might destroy the balance of flavours).

Finally add the shiso cut into thin strips, sprinkle with ground pepper, pour some sesame oil, stir well everything until shiso warms up and serve.

You can fry an egg and serve it on top or incorporate it in the middle of frying process (see Azusa’s instructions).



37 Replies to “Shiso and Bacon Fried Rice”

  1. Delicious looking rice! I have not worked with shiso leaves yet so I need to get out and find some. Beautifully plated!

    1. Incredible! I wish it was a nuisance plant here! I tried three years in a row and it doesn’t want to sprout on my balcony (the only herb that doesn’t want to grow). I would love to taste perilla honey. It must have an incredible aroma.
      If only we could all exchange through post all the food products we would love to offer… I also wish I could send perilla to my blogging friends who cannot even buy it.

  2. Thank you for another simple and delicious recipe. I wish I was in the mood to do some cooking but am in a holding pattern from that for a while waiting until my previously scheduled surgery (Aug 30) is re-scheduled. Whenever that happens. Grrr….

    1. Thank you so much, A_Boleyn. I cross my fingers. I hope your operation will be soon rescheduled and you will be able to enjoy all the wonderful food you have prepared.

  3. You can never go with fried rice. For me, I don’t microwave the rice first, just warming it straight in the pan by frying it because I’m always wary of clumpy rice, but it seems like it’s worked out for you! Enjoyed reading this version with the very savoury yummy flavours from bacon, and the fragrant shiso! nice fusion of east and west I would say!

    1. Thank you so much, Shuhan. Bacon and shiso are perfect together. The shiso’s slight bitterness is ideal with fat and strong bacon.
      I always slightly warm the rice, also when I make rice salads. It’s less sticky and becomes less dry (I do this with a lid on).

  4. Another beautiful fried rice creation from you, Sissi! I love seeing new version being added to your collections of delicious fried rice. Have a good weekend, Sissi! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Ray, for the compliments. I never have enough of fried rice recipes (and also of shiso recipes!). Have a lovely weekend too.

  5. OMG Sissi, Ron Swanson is MY IDOL ALSO!!!!!!!!!!! Oh I can’t get enough of Parks and Recreation, that guys is my favorite character, have you seen him drunk dancing? How about his pyramid of greatness? Oh I just can’t believe you and I have the same taste when it comes to comedy!

    I still can’t find shiso, which is just so strange, because Houston has so many Asian markets, we even visited a tiny one last weekend (there were so many health/fire hazard in that place, don’t even get me started), that place was filled with strange herbs I’ve never seen, and shiso was not amongst them…

    Now back to YouTube to look up more Swanson!

    1. Jeno, I cannot believe it!!!! I’m thrilled to learn you are a fan too. Parks and Recreation is the best comedy I have seen in ages. The person who has invented his character is a genius and of course the actor is extraordinary. Doesn’t he look like a human Garfield to you? Do you remember him saying in the same shop “Nature is amazing!” or Food and stuff? or “Give me all the bacon and eggs you have?” Or about the role of the government? Oh, I feel I will watch youtube all night! I’m so happy you are crazy for this series too. “I was born ready. I’m Ron F… Swanson”…. Sorry, I cannot stop thinking how much fun we would have together watching it over and over again…
      Are you sure you haven’t found perilla? The perilla I buy is sold in big bunches (like Thai basil), it has small leaves (a bit like basil) and it took me a lot of time to spot it… I know they use it really a lot in Vietnam. It’s called tia-to or ti-to. I really hope you will find it. If only shipping was quicker to the US and if I could send plants there, I would buy you a bunch every week.

      1. That’s HILARIOUS! Human Garfield! I never thought of that, but now I totally see it! Ron Swanson is so freaking awesome, did you know he’s married to Tammy 2 in real life? My daughter and I watch Parks and Reaction together, though she’s more info 30 Rock…

        1. I’m happy you share my view! I had no idea they were married. I also like 30 Rock, but nothing beats Parks and Recreation!

    1. I’m glad you have enjoyed it, Eva! Either someone is vegetarian/vegan or not. Why would a vegan want to eat something similar to the bacon he is supposed to hate? Ridiculous! My organic shop carries soy sausages, soy “chicken” nuggets and other stuff that reminds me of this hilarious scene.

  6. I hope I can find and sample shiso…your fried rice sounds amazing! And I had to giggle at the bacon video…my hubby would react the same way!

    1. I’m glad you like it too! It wouldn’t be actually a substitute, but I can well imagine the same recipe with Thai basil (the one with a strong smell) or maybe even coriander? Though I’m not sure if coriander wouldn’t be too strong… I would also give dill a try here. On the other hand the only 100% guarantee would be for me Thai basil. (It grows very easily even on my balcony, in case you cannot buy it).

    2. I have just had an idea while answering Zsuzsa: chives might be fantastic here (if like me you love chives in big amounts).

  7. Dear Sissi,

    Bacon or ham just brings fried rice to life and like you I love a fried egg on top as well like some Balinese version. The other Japanese fried rice I love is with garlic and black pepper that is usually served at the end of teppanyaki. That video is hilarious.

    1. Thank you, Chopinand. I have never had the rice you mention. Thanks for the idea. I’m glad you like the video. This series is amazing.

  8. hahaha I loved the vegan bacon video – vegan bacon? Is this not what we call an oxymoron? I would be interested in the substitutions for shiso, especially if the herb is already in my pantry. We eat a lot of rice and we often have the day old rice “fried” with vegetables and a bit of meat or bacon. Sissi, I am glad to hear someone else doesn’t like brown rice; I thought it was only me.

    1. I knew you would like this one! I’m glad you have enjoyed it (the character is awesome and the series is probably my favourite series comedy ever). I will post from time to time some other great moments from Parks and Recreation, always with my favourite Ron Swanson.
      I think this recipe would be perfect with Thai basil which is great when warm (but I suppose you might not be able to get it either…). My other ideas are coriander or dill, but frankly I’m not sure about the result. The idea is to have fresh rather strong herb, which doesn’t lose its advantages when warmed. Maybe you will have some other better ideas? Of course chives or green onions would be great too! (I don’t know why I haven’t thought about these). I am able to have a huge amount of chives just in one meal, so I’m sure it would be great here.
      Brown rice… I have tried it several times and would never choose it instead of my beloved white Japanese rice (I also find it difficult to digest). Some “fashionable” products, considered now as healthier, are really not to my taste. On the other hand I love wholemeal bread when it’s moist and well made (German bread can be fantastic).

  9. Now I know why I like you so much – we both love Ron Swanson!!! 🙂 Parks & Rec is one of my favorite sitcoms! I LOVE the video clip and so do agree! I’ll be laughing all afternoon now. thanks!!! Now for the rice – DElicious! I’m not familiar with shiso but we have a big Vietnamese community here, so I believe I could find it. Bacon in fried rice – ingenious! A wonderful dish!!!

    1. I’m thrilled to learn you are also a Ron Swanson’s fan! This is a real jewel among comedy series. If you have a big Vietnamese community nearby, I’m sure you will find shiso/perilla/ti to in Vietnamese (although I still am not sure how to pronounce it exactly… Vietnamese pronunciation is a nightmare for a European).

  10. You know, I’d love to try this cha-han! This is a new combination for me, but I can already imagine the flavor. Bacon is good for cha-han and adding shiso… hmmm….!!! It’s irresistible flavor for shiso fan like myself! Thank you for sharing the recipe and Azusa-san’s blog!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. I’m sure you would love this fried rice. Shiso lightens up the bacon, so it doesn’t feel heavy.

  11. If shiso lightens up the bacon…then obviously its needed in this recipe, Sissi. I have to check shiso leaves out, at our local Asian market. They carry all kinds of Asian fresh herbs, and vegetables as well. The rice is super nice, and such a wonderful combination adding the bacon strips.
    Funny video…sorry I don’t watch a lot of stuff on T.V. and don’t know too many characters, either. I watch my usual certain special programs, and that’s about all

    1. THanks a lot, Elisabeth; Shiso has a fresh, slightly pungent smell and is in general perfect with pork because it lightens the taste and makes it livelier. I hope you can buy it somewhere. As I said Vietnamese should sell it (it’s called “ti to” more or less in Vietnamese). I only watch comedies I like, but this one is a real jewel. (Parks and Recreation if you even stumble upon it).

  12. Heehee on the video… I’ve never understood the attraction of mock meats – if you’re going to choose not to eat an animal why eat fake, highly processed, let’s pretend it’s an animal? (ok, enough of that ;-)).

    Sissi, this is a delightful dish – (the slivered fresh ginger has me curling my toes) – and your fuchsia napkin is setting it ablaze! Gorgeous colours and side lighting.

    1. Hi, Kelly. I’m glad we agree! Shouldn’t vegans be disgusted by the word “bacon”? Thank you so much for the compliments.

  13. I am very intrigued by this herb Sissi, even the shape of the leaves are most interesting. I know I can’t get it in our ordinary stores, but I’ll have to keep my eyes open in the Asian shops downtown. I’m also rather intrigued by the cooked cucumber, I’m always learning something new with these blogs. I suspect the cucumber’s texture would be similar to zucchini after cooking, and I do adore zucchini, so I’m pretty sure I’d love cooked cucumber too.
    I hope it’s finally warmed up in your parts, it’s a touch warmer here but not nearly what it should be, barely reaching 20 C as the high. At least it is sunny today do ill ride my bike to work (8km), yesterday it poured rain all day, not nice at all.

    1. Hi, Eva. Shiso is a very special herb. I am really lucky because it’s available all year round at my Vietnamese grocery shop (they have about 20 different fresh herbs sold in big bags not to mention fruits and vegetables…).
      Actually this is a bit more juicy than zucchini and still more refreshing. It’s soft and crunchy at the same time, but if you like zucchini you would like fried cucumber. Try it without any herb. It will be excellent too. (The mixture of vinegar and chili and garlic is also very good).
      We have been having very strange weather… Hot like hell in the middle of the day, but cloudy in the morning and evening. For the last two days. I’m really scared of the summer…

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