In this week’s box you’ll find shiso, perilla frutescens, a Japanese herb in the mint family. You can recognize this plant and all mint family members by their square shaped stem. Shiso is typically purple but there are also green varieties and its typically used in Japan for umeboshi or pickled plums.
Last year we dropped CSA shares at Yoga Union and one day Key, a 96-year-old woman, who lives right next-door stopped gardening and introduced herself. After hearing our story, she told us how proud she was of us and how beautiful our flowers and vegetables were. She became a friend we sat with for a short visit every Wednesday telling us stories of the neighborhood she has lived in for over 60 years. Key gave us the shiso seed we planted and you are eating today. She has been growing the plant in Portland for years and loves how it smells.
We also sell the shiso to a bar and restaurant in McMinnville called Thistle who is muddling it in a gin and champagne cocktail called the Vibrant Valley. Enjoy shiso and say hello to Key when you’re in the neighborhood!
Quick Cucumber and Shiso Pickles
Adapted from Food 52
cup apple cider vinegar
tablespoon salt, preferrably sea or kosher
Japanese cucumbers, or 2 English cucumbers
Put sugar, vinegar, mirin and salt into a non-reactive bowl. Whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Slice cucumbers as thinly as possible. (To seed or not is up to you and what you found at the market. With the skinny Japanese cukes or the English version, you should be okay without removing the seeds.)
Gather the shiso leaves like a deck of cards, roll into a tube and slice, chiffonade-style, like you would with basil.
Add cucumbers and shiso to the marinade and stir. Try to cover the vegetables with the marinade. It’s okay if the liquid doesn’t submerge the cucumbers. They will break down and get smaller as they marinate.
Put the mix in the fridge and let marinate for at least 4 hours. Mix a couple of times if you can, but it’s okay if you don’t. Once pointed in the right direction, cucumbers tend to take care of themselves.
Serve, icy cold out of the fridge if you can.
Napa Cabbage Spring Rolls
Note: This week you’ll get purple cabbage and can substitute it for the napa cabbage
Adapted from Recipe.com
sea salt or kosher salt
head napa cabbage or savoy cabbage
shredded or grated carrots
finely chopped green onions
snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
sesame oil (not toasted)
finely shredded lime peel
sea salt or kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
Soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water to boiling. Slowly add rice and return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover; let rice cool. Set rice aside.
In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven, combine 12 cups (3 quarts) water and the 1 tablespoon sea salt. Bring to boiling. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 8 cups cold water and ice cubes.
Remove 8 outer leaves from cabbage. Make a cut through each individual leaf at the base where it attaches to the core. Trim out some of the woody stem area from the leaf. Set the remaining head aside.
To blanch, carefully add trimmed cabbage leaves to boiling water; cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until just wilted. Cool quickly by plunging cabbage leaves into ice water for 1 minute. Remove individual leaves from water and lay each flat on a cloth towel to dry. Set leaves aside.
For vegetable filling:
From the remaining cabbage, finely chop enough to measure 1 3/4 cups. In a large bowl, combine the finely chopped cabbage, carrots, onions, parsley, sesame oil, lime peel, lime juice, the 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
About one hour before serving, assemble rolls. (These rolls benefit from allowing the surface to dry a little, so making them an hour or so in advance of serving is a good idea.) First, squeeze out any excess water from the vegetable filling. Then, on the counter or cutting board, take a blanched cabbage leaf and lay it flat, with the base end toward you. In the center of the leaf, place 1/4 cup of the vegetable filling on center of leaf, then place 2 tablespoons of the rice on top of the vegetable mixture.
Roll the base end over the rice and filling. Fold both left and right sides over so that it just covers the opening on the edges. Continue rolling toward the end, wrapping tightly with care not to tear the leaf. Place finished roll on a serving dish with the end tucked under the roll, seam side down. Repeat with remaining leaves, rice and vegetable filling.
To serve, if you like, cut each roll in half crosswise on a diagonal to make 16 pieces. Serve with soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.