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Jun 18, 2000 12:40 PM

rad japanese martini

  • j

I was trying to figure out how to take my vodka, and came up with something pretty cool. You need the pickled shisho (beefsteak) leaf used to color umeboshi (salted plums) red. Take a couple leaves, and drop them into iced vodka. Bite off a little and chew them while you drink it. It's delicious.

I also tried doing stuff with the plum itself. The sugars in the plum brought out the bitterness in the liquor, so that part of the experiment failed.

The principle seems to be: aromatic and salty things go well with dry liquors like vodka and gin.

I think you *might* be able to get the leaf in some jars of umeboshi. I get mine from my mother, who makes the plums.

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  1. > pickled shisho (beefsteak) leaf used to color umeboshi

    Shisho?? What's that? It's not even showing up in my monster Japanese dictionary.

    Shiso -- without the h -- is some kind of leaf which I have always seen as GREEN. By Japanese perceptions it might be considered BLUE (like ao-sai). I wasn't aware that these were used to make umeboshi, and in fact, would have thought that any "pickled" ones might have gotten their colour FROM umeboshi.

    Isn't umeboshi basically PURPLE/PINK anyways??

    Your experiments remind me of my stubborn insistence on putting orange juice in seishu/Nihon-shu (sake). My Japanese friends dubbed it a "Nihon-shudriver". They also dubbed it "disgusting".

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jim Wong
      Leslie Brenner

      I consulted the Oxford Companion to Food, about which I (like Jim) have mixed feelings, since frequently what I'm looking for doesn't appear. In this case, however, it came through with the following: Perilla frutescens, or shiso, comes in several different cultivars, in different colors, including Green, Red, and Purple. Red, or beefsteak, is commonly used for making umeboshi, as well as ginger, and apparently even as a wrapping for certain confections. A cultivar called Curled, it tells us, is even darker purple with a "peppermint-like" aroma; "other cultivars have aromas more like lemon or cinnamon or cumin."

      From my own experience, I'm familiar with the Green, frequently used as garnish with sushi or sashimi. A large, flat, spiked leaf, it has a lovely, pungent sweet-mint like flavor. I never leave it on my plate.

      1. re: Jim Wong

        Umeboshi is often translated as ``plum'' but is actually a kind of unripe apricot. When I see umeboshi in their unpickled state in Little Tokyo markets, they seem to have been a sort of yellowy green.

        1. re: Jim Wong

          I have purple-leaved perilla growing as a weed throughout my garden - if you want to see it au naturel (not pickled), check with your gardening friends.