Breaded Pork and Shiso Rolls

These rolls are the result of an exceptional craving for tonkatsu (Japanese breaded pork cutlets) combined with a desperate need to do something with an abundant crop of shiso leaves. I sliced the pork very thinly, seasoned it, rolled tightly with the shiso leaves, breaded and deep-fried. These crisp and aromatic rolls were perfect to celebrate probably one of the last harvests of this year’s balcony-grown shiso.

TIPS: Shiso (or perilla) is a Japanese herb (though it’s also used in Thailand and a slightly differently scented variety also in Korea), which luckily becomes more and more popular abroad (my two local gardening shops have been selling it potted for the third year in row). It grows in most climates, even on a balcony, so if you cannot get the potted plant, try sowing it. Unfortunately, shiso isn’t similar to any other herb I know, so I have no idea what can be used here instead. Certainly a herb which is still aromatic and good after being cooked (maybe Thai basil?).

My favourite way to have these rolls is with a mixture of mayonnaise and sediments from chilli oil (Taberu rayu), but they are also very good with soy sauce and chilli oil and I guess any dipping sauce will be delicious.

You can ask the butcher to cut thin pork slices or use a big wide very sharp knife (I now always do it on my own, it takes 5 minutes).

Make sure you have enough shiso leaves to cover the whole surface (more or less) of the slices. Otherwise you won’t feel the taste of shiso once it’s fried.

If you can get Japanese panko breadcrumbs, use them here. They are crisper and seem to absorb less fat than standard or homemade breadcrumbs.

Click here if you look for other recipe ideas with shiso.

Preparation: about 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves as a main dish for 4-5, if served with rice and vegetables, or as a snack/appetiser for 6 or 7 at least):

1/2 kg (about 1 lb) pork loin, without fat, cut into thin (max. 2 mm) slices

big shiso leaves (as many as the number of slices or double the amount if the leaves are small; they should cover more or less the whole surface of the slices)

salt, pepper

1 egg, beaten with a fork

2 heaped tablespoons flour

2 big handfuls of breadcrumbs (use the Japanese panko if you can)

oil for deep-frying (I thought 400 ml oil was enough for this amount of rolls)

Prepare three bowls: one with breadcrumbs, one with flour and one with a beaten egg.

Start heating the oil in a small deep pan (I advise placing it as far from yourself as possible; I always deep-fry on a hob next to the wall).

In the meantime season each slice of pork with salt and pepper (on one side only).

Place the shiso leaf/leaves on the seasoned side and roll very tightly (no need for skewers; these rolls will somehow “stick” together during the frying process).

Roll each roll in flour, then in the egg and finally in breadcrumbs.

Deep-fry until golden. (The oil is ready for deep-frying when some breadcrumbs thrown into it instantly change colour and stay at the surface).

Serve them either as a snack, a starter or a main dish. They need a dipping sauce (see the TIPS above).

14 Replies to “Breaded Pork and Shiso Rolls”

  1. Beautiful rolls and a great use of those flavourful shiso leaves. Thank you again for sending me the seeds to grow my own plants.

    Most of my shiso leaves are turning yellow/white and losing their flavour but when I get a new batch I’ll have to give this a try.

    1. Thank you so much, A_Boleyn. Shiso are strong enough to support the pork and the deep-frying too! I’m glad you enjoy growing the Japanese herbs! Do not hesitate to tell me if you run out of the seeds (if I don’t have my own fresh shiso seeds I’ll bring them from Japan).

  2. Well this is creative as all get out. 🙂 What great flavors and beautiful rolls. Love the breading to give it that crunch. Bet this would be good with chicken as well. What do you think?

    I still have some of the seeds so I’m keeping them in the refrigerator and hopefully next year I’ll have better success. Except for squash, this was not a very good garden year.

    1. Thank you so much, MJ! It was so addictive…. actually I have made them today for lunch (it’s 7:30 pm now here) and ate them for lunch AND for dinner! 1 cm more in waist probably 😉 but it was impossible to resist.
      Of course it would be perfect with chicken! I make lots of chicken rolls and some of them with shiso too. It’s just that since I had pork for tonkatsu (breaded cutlets) I opted for pork.
      I’ll send you fresh shiso seeds in spring because two years’ old they might refuse to grow (some plants are very fussy in what comes to freshness of seeds).
      I’ve had a very good “gardening” year (on my balcony, hence the “” 😉 ). For the past two weeks the weather was so hot… 21°C during the day and 15°C in the evening, so my plants kept on growing like crazy… Now the temperatures are typical for autumn, so I have to watch closely when I should pick all the chillies (I still have about 30 ripening fruits) and consider cold weather protection for some herbs.

  3. Looks delicious! I’m glad you have a green thumb for shiso!
    I want to make similar rolls (or layered tonkatsu) for my mother, which cannot eat chewy food and probably has difficulty chewing tonkatsu.

    1. Thank you so much, Hiroyuki. This is definitely easier to chew than tonkatsu… but maybe the best is menchi katsu?

  4. I have yet to find the Shiso here but your posts are making me more determined! Your rolls look awesome and delicious. If you freeze the pork for 20-30 minutes, it’s easy to slice thinly, but you probably do that anyway!

    1. Thank you, Eva! Let me know if you want to grow shiso from seeds. I will send you some! I know the freezing trick! It’s really great, but I found that 2-3 mm thickness can be obtained with fresh meat too, so I don’t bother.

  5. This is really a very new kind of recipe for me, both in the way it looks and also what the ingredients are concerned, I have never heard of shiso leaves. I wish I could taste these rolls!

    1. Hi Adina. Shiso leaves, though with Asian origins, become more and more available in Europe. I hope you can taste them because they are really different from other fresh herbs.

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