Chicken and Shiso Balls

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.

38 Replies to “Chicken and Shiso Balls”

    1. Thank you, Reem! The taste is delicate, but quite complex (especially given that it’s just chicken breast meat). I am sure I will thoroughly enjoy the knife, thanks.

  1. Congrats on the new knife, how exciting! I was watching Iron Chef last night and saw how easily the chefs cut their ingredients, and I said to myself maybe it’s time to look into a professional knife set!

    Your recipe came at just the right time! I finally found shiso leaves last weekend, in fact some are being made into shiso garlic soy sauce right now! This recipe looks really good, if my family like the taste of shiso, I will definitely give this a try soon!

    1. Thank you, Jeno! I know what you mean. Whenever I watched some youtube videos and saw how easily people cut meat or vegetables I felt I really lacked the basic kitchen utensil. Since there are so many different brands and kinds on the market I didn’t know what to choose, but now I don’t need to bother with my first professional knife’s choice 😉 I also make the garlic and shiso soy sauce very often, I have to post it one day! If you like shiso, you will love these balls!

  2. This sounds awesome, the more I see shiso the more I get curious to try it. Maybe I have tried it before, it looks familiar, but I need to find out! And congratulations on winning the knife. Its such a relief to have good quality knives.

    1. Mr. Three-Cookies, shiso is an incredible herb. I find it all year round in a Vietnamese/Thaï shop, so I hope you will find it somewhere in Sweden too.
      Thank you, I am still thrilled at the thought I will be able to use a REAL knife!

  3. We should have a Shiso club. I hope Cindy (aka Jeno) will like her shiso that she got for the first time. I’ve made the similar patties not a long ago but haven’t processed photos yet. We usually call it “Tofu hamburg (hamburger steak)” but Shen told me it can cause misunderstanding because we do put meat in it (most commonly ground chicken is used). I didn’t realize it. I love your name MUCH better so cute!! Now I have to think of another name but it’s going to be boring. I liked R’s idea of chopping into the patties/balls. And of course bainiku on top! 😉 Congrats on knife! Our recently purchased knife is craftsman style sashimi knife from Japan that my mom brought. You can cut raw fish really thin… sharp knife does make it really easier for cooking. =)

    1. Nami, I think creating a shiso appreciation society would be a great idea! I could have shiso practically every day!
      It’s funny because I wanted to name this recipe “chicken and tofu balls with shiso” and then changed my mind because I thought some people might consider doing it without tofu too. I didn’t know “tofu hamburger” was with meat! (I have heard about it somewhere, but have never seen it). You can call your hamburger simply meat/chicken hamburger with tofu… Actually my Japanese friend (and teacher 😉 ) just told me she chops shiso into ground meat and puts into dumplings. It gave me the idea to do the same without dumpling skins. I will post her dumpling recipe soon too! (I must make photos before).
      Thanks Nami, I am impatient to see the knife and use it!

    1. Thank you, Angie! I have tried to grow shiso this year and last year and it never worked… It’s a bit tricky. A kind blogger suggested putting seeds into the fridge before sowing them, but it was too late… Luckily I can buy shiso in a Vietnamese shop practically all year round.

  4. Sissi, this is great. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted shiso leaves (at least not that I’m aware of) and from your description, they sound like a full bodied herb that’s a lot of fun to cook with. I’m glad you referenced the salad and skewers – both look fantastic as well. I love learning about new foods, herbs and spices – it makes the blogging process so interesting and fun to look forward to. I’ll have to go on a hunt for shiso!

    1. Thanks, Kelly. I think if you tasted them you would be well aware… Their flavour is not similar to any other herb I know (hence the lack of substitution tips) and it’s quite strong (but not in the love-hate way like coriander for example). I also adore discovering new herbs, spices and ingredients in general, and then experimenting with them. Quinoa’s turn comes very soon I think 😉

  5. I’d never heard of shiso until my mom made a recipe for a sashimi stack a while back. She topped the stacks with shiso leaves. They make for a very pretty topping! These chicken balls sounds delicious. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Caroline. I have never had sashimi with shiso leaves, although I have already seen it served this way. It always looks very appealing.

  6. I never tried this herb, but the combination with your meatballs looks heavenly! Great recipe and congrats for the contest! I’m trying to win a good knife, too… and I know how it could change your kitchen-life!

  7. How intriguing! It looks like a cross between a nettle and a leaf of mint! 😀 I don’t think I’ve ever heard of shiso either, though it sounds like a fun ingredient to use – I’m all for different herbs and spices. This recipe looks delightful – I’ve never cooked with minced chicken before, least of all mixed it with tofu – looks like it’s making a tasty meal, and I love the idea of adding sour plum paste… that stuff is so awesome!

    1. Thank you, Charles!
      It’s a very inventive comparison, although it would have to be a rather huge nettle leaf 😉 I often make things with minced chicken. It’s lighter than beef or pork and it’s a nice change also… I usually mix a chicken breast simply in a baby food mixer.
      I add silken tofu very often to dumplings or anything with ground meat, because it allows me to use very lean meat and still have tender dishes (lean ground meat dries during the cooking process). I don’t put it for the taste, the tofu addition doesn’t change the balls’ flavour at all.

  8. First off, I’m so glad you one. Having a nice knife makes life so much easier! I love this recipe too and all the mileage you put on your food processor!

    1. Thank you, Greg! I hope I will be able to use it properly and cut the food instead of fingers (this is one of the reasons I still haven’t bought a ceramic knife, apparently it takes time and lots of blood to get used to it 😉 )
      Actually, I have a bigger, normal food processor too. I have bought the small one to mix such small things like one onion, a handful of nuts etc.. I would have never suspected I would grind meat with it (not to mention the cocktails!).

    1. Shiso leaves are exceptional and extraordinary! If you find them one day, do try using in both cooked and raw version.

  9. Oh I love shiso too! And ume! Pickled ume with shiso is a must-have item in my fridge. My lab canteen sometimes has deep-fried chicken wrapped with shiso leaves and drenched with tsuyu sauce, which is really really good! Now you really made me want to make these chicken patties! Thank you for sharing the recipe 🙂

    1. Thank you, Arudhi! I have seen fried things wrapped in shiso leaves so many times… I suppose they are wrapped after the frying process or maybe just at the end… When I tried wrapping once beef patties the shiso leaves burnt very quickly and I the result was really awful. I must find the shiso wrapping tips on internet.
      How I envy you such a canteen! I would probably never think of eating anywhere else.

  10. I`m not really sure about the cooking method, but the chicken I ate has the shiso leaf underneath the coating batter. Maybe that`s what makes the leaf doesn`t get burn easily. Or maybe you can try mixing chopped shiso leaves in the batter? I almost never deep-fry food, and certainly have never dealt with this leaf-wrapping and frying. You should listen to Nami or other Japanese cook instead of me, though :p Good luck with the experiments!

    1. Thank you! If the leaf was under the batter, then I understand (I made aji tempura once with shiso leaves, very impressive and… suprisingly easy!). I suppose I ask Nami so many questions concerning the recipes she posts that I even don’t think of asking her about something not featured on her blog 😉 but I will do it!

  11. I make home ground chicken balls and patties myself but have never tasted shiso nor have I added tofu to the mixture. More wonderful ideas for the future though (like Charles) I have to empty out the contents of my overful freezer before I can start restocking with items for new dishes. 🙂

  12. I love shiso so much that I named one of my kittykats after it… The recipe sounds wonderful, will have to remember it for next year when my garden is overflowing with them!

    1. Thank you, Foodhoe. I am very happy to meet another shiso fan! Since I discovered the all-year source of big shiso bags, I make sure I have them all the time.

Comments are closed.