Shiso, or perilla (紫蘇) is a Japanese herb with a fresh, “grassy” aroma and a strong flavour. When I had a chance to taste it for the first time, I have fallen in love instantly and since then have been on a constant search for new ways to use it. Probably the most frequent dish I make with this herb is a Tomato and Shiso Salad, but the real breakthrough was when I discovered how good it tastes combined with chicken in Ume-Shiso Chicken Skewers. It made my realise how good the combination of my beloved chicken and shiso might be.
Naturally, the chicken patties wrapped in shiso leaves I saw on Shizuoka Gourmet’s blog didn’t go unnoticed. First I wanted to copy exactly what I saw in his bento, but then I talked to a Japanese friend of mine (thank you, R.!) who suggested chopping the shiso leaves and incorporating them into the patties. Shiso brings complexity and a fresh note to these simple chicken balls, while soft tofu stops them from drying out. I love serving chicken with sour Japanese ume plum paste (bainiku), but it can be served with any sauce of your choice. Shiso’s flavour is strong enough to stand most of the flavours. I had this dish for lunch and once for dinner, but I can very well imagine it on toothpicks served as a snack.
I haven’t bought ground meat on purpose: I mixed it with garlic, tofu and ginger in a small food processor (the one used for baby food, the same I use to mix cocktails).
Before I pass to the recipe details I cannot stop myself from sharing with you the great news which made me literally jump with joy: I have won a beautiful, high-quality knife in a contest organised by Charles from 5 Euro Food! Actually it was like a wish list gift for me since I have been meaning to buy a serious, good quality knife for ages. Thank you again, Charles, for this wonderful prize!
Preparation: 25 minutes
Ingredients (serves 2):
1 chicken breast (ground or whole if you wish to grind it yourself)
1 cm fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove
about 3 heaped tablespoons chopped shiso
about 3 heaped tablespoons soft (silken) tofu
1-2 tablespoons oil
bainiku (ume paste)
If your meat is already ground, grate or crush the garlic clove and the ginger, chop the shiso, add the tofu and the salt and combine everything in a bowl.
If your meat isn’t ground, cut it in 4-5 pieces and put into a food processor with the remaining ingredients (apart from shiso!). Mix well. Put into a bowl and combine with shiso.
Heat the oil in a pan.
Form the meat mixture into apricot-sized balls, slightly squash them and fry for about 15 minutes.
First fry them with a lid (this will make the balls fry quicker without burning). Then turn to the other side and finish frying, uncovered.
Serve with rice and ume pasteor another sauce/paste of your choice.