Shiso (紫蘇), or perilla, a herb I discovered only a couple of months ago, has become a staple in my kitchen. Its elegant, slightly bitter taste and grassy aroma make it exceptional and absolutely impossible to compare to any other plant. Even though it can be used both raw and cooked, it is not as versatile as parsley, coriander or chives. On the other hand, once you find a good company for shiso, it will become an obligatory ingredient, enhancing basic and bland flavours and creating interesting, original dishes. Two main varieties – red shiso (akajiso in Japanese) and green shiso – have the same shape, but vary slightly in colour and intensity (red one is more pungent). Apart from the Japanese cuisine, perilla is also used for example in China, Vietnam or Korea.
Some time ago a Japanese friend told me how she makes beef and shiso gyoza dumplings. I promised myself I would try her recipe one day. A couple of days ago, finding a package of gyoza skins in my freezer I have decided to try shiso in dumplings. I have chosen ground chicken for two reasons. First, I only had chicken breasts in my fridge and secondly, both Ume- Shiso Chicken Skewers and Chicken and Shiso Balls have convinced me that shiso and chicken combination was foolproof. I was right: instead of dominating the delicate chicken breast flavours, shiso enhanced and sophisticated them. The dumplings were so good, I had them for dinner two days in a row. Thank you, R., for this excellent idea!
If you cannot find shiso in your Japanese shop or if it’s horribly expensive, try other Asian grocers. I find cheap shiso all year round in a Vietnamese shop. I don’t dare calling my dumplings “gyoza” since they were simply cooked and then some of them reheated by pan frying. If you want to prepare them like real gyoza, see Nami’s “Just One Cookbook” blog for detailed instructions.
In case you have a big bunch of shiso and wonder how to use it, here are previously posted dishes, all calling for shiso:
Before I pass to the recipe details, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Three-Cookies (from Three Cookies blog) for making and posting my Layered Herring and Beetroot Salad. His presentation is absolutely gorgeous and I’m very proud that, as the ultimate herring specialist, Mr. Three-Cookies enjoyed my favourite herring dish (click here to see his wonderful version).
Preparation: 1 hour
Ingredients (makes 24 gyoza skin dumplings):
24 gyoza skins (or other thin dumpling skins)
2 chicken breasts (minced or whole)
4 tablespoons chopped shiso
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 medium onion
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 litres chicken stock
If using minced chicken breasts, combine them in a bowl with finely chopped onion, shiso and the remaining ingredients.
If using whole chicken breasts, cut them into chunks and mix, with onion, in a food processor.
Afterwards combine with the remaining ingredients.
Prepare a big pan of boiling chicken stock (may be prepared with granulated chicken stock).
Brush the dumpling skins’ edges with water.
Place a heaped teaspoon of the filling on each skin and seal them.
To make sure the dumplings are well sealed, I always prick the sealed edges with a fork (on both sides).
Cook in boiling stock for about 10 minutes. (Put only a couple of dumplings at a time, so that they can “swim” easily).
Serve boiled or fried.
These dumplings can be made in advance and frozen or refrigerated. If you want to refrigerate them, separate them with cling film. Otherwise they might stick to each other.