Vegetables are an important part of our lives, and some of them are just used for their aroma and appearance. Similarly, there are different herbs that accentuate the flavor of a recipe, and shiso is one of them. But again, shiso is not your common off-the-shelf herb that can be easily found. So, let’s look for the shiso substitutes!
This is the Japanese herb tea and is found in Chinese and Indian regions (the mountainous regions, to be precise). However, it is now available all around the globe. It has green, red, and bicolor leaves. The leaves are usually ruffled. It is majorly added to the Southeast Asian and East Asian cuisines.
There are some wild varieties, but they are not suitable for eating. They are used for their amazing flavor and size. The size is just perfect for wrapping in other food items. So, in case you cannot find shiso, we have some amazing substitutes lined up in the section below!
This is the first yet perfect substitute for shiso since it belongs to the Lamiaceae family. That being said, mint has an intense flavor and strong fragrance. There are multiple varieties of mint, and all of them are suitable for substituting shiso. These varieties include perilla mint and purple mint. The aroma and sweetness of the mint can easily replicate the shiso taste.
Mint has slight pepper notes and will do fine with the majority of recipes. Generally, it is used for desserts and can be added as a savory seasoning as well. It has a familiar and refreshing flavor which means it won’t be bad for picky eaters either. However, the mint leaves are smaller than shiso leaves, so they are not suitable for wrapping other food items.
2) Thai Basil
This is a member of the mint family and is widely used for Asian cuisine. It can add the anise flavor notes to the recipe, and the flavor will be distinctively spicy. Thai basil can be used for stir-fries and has a purple color. The purple color of Thai basil will help replicate shiso. Also, it means that you are replicating the flavor and the appearance as well.
Thai basil has smaller leaves which means they are not suitable for wrapping food items. Still, there won’t be any issues with the flavor. You have to keep in mind that Thai basil has a higher pungency which means you have to use it in a lesser amount (start with half). Lastly, you can add the Thai basil more if your recipes call for it.
3) Grape Leaves
Grape leaves will substitute shiso. The grape leaves are widely used in Mediterranean cooking. The best thing about using grape leaves is that it has leaves big enough for using them as wraps. Before you move on, it’s important to outline that grape leaves can be sturdy, so they will require longer cooking time. Usually, the brined grape leaves are readily available and have a tangy flavor.
On the contrary, if you have access to grapevines, you can opt for fresh grape leaves. In that case, you have to opt for the leaves that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides. All in all, you can use the grape leaves just like you would use shiso leaves.
4) Sweet Basil
We have already talked about Thai basil, and sweet basil makes an equally great issue. This is an herb with a pungent yet sweet aroma. There are different varieties available and will have a bush-like appearance. Sweet basil has dark brown and small seeds (the seeds can be used as well). The sweet basil has a different appearance, such as yellow, purple, and deep green.
Even more, the sweet basil is available in crinkled, smooth, and rough form, so you can use whichever you want. Generally, sweet basil has a spicy aroma, but the taste will be clove-like. It can be used in dried, frozen, and fresh forms. Sweet basil can be added to omelets, vegetables, salads, sauces, and pesto. Some people also use them for stuffing.
It is widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine but can be cooked in Italian cuisine as well. In the case of Chinese cuisine, sweet basil will perfectly complement soups. Truth be told, the flavor is pretty interesting. Some people use the flower buds (they are fine as well but have subtle flavor).