Forget the basil, forget the chives, the mint or the parsley; shiso is undeniably the tomato’s best friend. Shiso (紫蘇) or perilla, a staple in the Japanese cuisine, has a herbaceous, slightly bitter flavour and a strong aroma. It is used as well in raw as in cooked dishes (see the Ume-Shiso Chicken Skewers). I took to shiso instantly and the more I use it the more I like it. Looking for some shiso use ideas I stumbled upon a wonderful inspiring blog called Humble Bean, where I found the Tomato and Shiso Salad and felt at once I would not be disappointed.
I was right. The salad was a revelation. It is falsely simple, yet proves sophisticated and complex, which for me is a perfect definition of the Japanese cuisine. The sweetness of the tomato, the bitterness of the shiso and the lively crunch of the onion are already an ideal combination, but the delicate sauce makes it extraordinary. The salad is so addictive I served it two days in a row and I feel I could have it not only every day, but with every meal or even in between, as a light snack. The only modification was substituting the onion with a shallot (I ran out of onions). In theory the below amount serves two, but for me it makes only one portion for one shiso addict. Thank you, Azusa, for this marvellous discovery.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Ingredients (serves one):
1 big chilled tomato (or ten mini-tomatoes halved lengthwise)
3 big shiso leaves (both green and red are delicious here, in my opinion)
1/2 small onion (I used 1/2 shallot)
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
several turns of the freshly ground pepper
Remove the tomato stem and slice it.
Chop finely the onion and soak it for 5 minutes in cold water.
Do the same with shiso (in a separate bowl).
Combine the sauce ingredients.
Drain the onion and the shiso and pat dry.
Arrange the tomato slices in a bowl.
Sprinkle with the onion, then with shiso and drizzle the sauce over it.