This year I succeeded to grow my beloved shiso (perilla) from seeds for the first time. After several years of total failure, in spite of different methods, I was quite pessimistic this spring too, so it was a shock to see dozens of seeds germinate and then the majority growing into beautiful big red and green plants (write to me if you also have problems germinating shiso; I’ll give you successful tips). Now, with a jungle of shiso on my balcony, I could enjoy it every single day, if I wanted, and, strangely, I don’t get tired of its beautiful strong aroma. Apart from the dishes I learnt throughout previous years, I obviously experiment and certainly will do it more throughout the summer.
Since shiso leaves are quite big (and can be as huge as your palm, if you grow them on your own), so they are perfect for wrapping around other ingredients and for being a part of different kinds of cute rolls I’m so fond of. This weekend I found some streaky smoked bacon in my freezer and decided to use it with shiso and sweet peppers. Instead of pan-grilling, as usually, I used my oven broiler and it worked even better, allowing me to eliminate more melted fat. Three ingredients, about ten minutes of grilling and the result was fantastic!
In case you wonder what to do with a big bunch of shiso:
or maybe some of these….
TIPS: These rolls taste wonderful with Japanese tangy ponzu sauce, but make sure you don’t buy the cheapest brand because the difference is huge. I can also advise my gochujang and sour cream /yogurt sauce, adding a Korean accent, but frankly these rolls are perfect on their own, if you use smoked meat.
The bacon slices must be really thin (like Parma ham), otherwise the rolls might become soft and soggy.
A tip for chilli pepper lovers: put some fresh chilli among the sweet pepper strips.
Ingredients (makes 10 rolls):
10 big shiso/perilla leaves (red or green)
10 super thin slices of smoked bacon
1 big bell pepper
Cut the bell pepper into thin strips and then cut them in two lengthwise.
Divide into ten equal portions.
Preheat the oven broiler or a grill.
Spread a slice of bacon, place the leaf, then strips of pepper and roll very tightly.
Grill on a grill or under an oven broiler or on a pan until golden brown.
Turn once for one-two minutes.
Place on paper towels to remove excess fat and serve as a snack or as a lunch (with rice for example or bread+salad).