Perilla seedpod Tsukudani 紫蘇の実の佃煮

japanese cake

Aojiso 青じそ or green perilla is nice to have in your garden, especially if you are making any Japanese dishes as an ingredient as well as a garnish.The only problem is that this plant is like mint and is very prolific. It will reseed and take over the entire garden if you are not careful. When they start blossoming and making seeds, it is one of the signs of autumn for us. As you can see below, our small raised herb garden is dominated by perilla now with its flowers and seedpods.

I have used the flowers and seedpods as a garnish/decoration and seen commercial Tsukudani of shiso seedpods 紫蘇の実の佃煮 but never thought of making it myself until I came across the post from one of the blog I follow (in Japanese). I think the major effort required to make this dish is to remove the seedpods from the stalks.

The image above on the left and center are seedpods attached to the stalk and the right is after separating pods from the stalk. This is a rather time consuming tedious step (My wife helped me). I washed the pods with stalks and let it dry before removing the seedpods. I would have only used mirin, sake and soy sauce for the seasoning like I did with kelp tsukudani, but I followed the recipe from the aforementioned blog and also added rice vinegar (at the very end of the cooking) and umeboshi.

I just poured the seasoning liquid of sake, mirin, and soy sauce (1:1:1) just to barely cover the seed pods and add the meat of two umeboshi 梅干し (pickled plum) cut up and also added their stones. I also added rice vinegar (2 tsp) at the very end. I am not sure how much of the seedpods I had to begin with but probably 3 cups or so. After 20-30 minutes with the lid slightly askew to encourage reduction, the liquid almost all evaporated and the pods become brown with the seeds visible (image below).

It tastes somewhat like any tsukudani (salty soy sauce and molasses-like sweetness) but has a nice popping crunchy texture when you bite down on it (Japanese expression is “puchi puchi” プチプチ). It doesn’t have much perilla taste per se but it does have interesting flavors. Certainly, this will be very good to just nibble while drinking cold sake or on hot rice. We actually tried it on potatoes and it was very good. At least, we feel like we reduced the amount of reseeding for the next year.

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