Shiso Pesto, Vodka and Tea

By Chinuck | Asia Polka | 15 Sep 2021

In the past few weeks, I've posted a lot of recipes using shiso. That's because most recipes only require a few leaves, but my grocer insists on selling it in a gigantic bunch.

shiso fresh

Well, my shiso is on its last legs, so today we're going to put it out of its misery. These are some ways you can euthanize your shiso.

shiso dead

First we have to dissect the shiso and sort the pieces into piles of different usability -- separate the wheat from the chaff, so to say.

Start by picking off the leaves that are still somewhat usable and put them in pile A. Next, pick off the very dry leaves and put them in Pile B. The stems go into pile C.

shiso pesto


  • shiso leaves from pile A, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 0.5 cup olive oil
  • pinch of salt

pesto ingredients

Put everything into a blender or food processor and mix until smoothish. You may have to adjust the amounts based on how much shiso you were able to salvage. It can be used anywhere you would use pesto, like pasta or just on a baguette.

shiso pesto pasta


  • shiso stems from pile C.
  • 1 slice of lemon
  • 3 slices of ginger

We can preserve the stems in formaldehyde...I mean, vodka. I discovered that shiso stems like to float in vodka, so make sure you give them a good push down to get them soaked, otherwise the parts sticking out might rot. It's probably a good idea to give them another push down to soak the next day too. Once they're soaked with vodka, they should be fine. I'd let it sit for about 7 days for the flavours to infuse, then you can remove the ingredients and discard them (or leave them in longer if you want a stronger flavour).

shiso vodka

To properly honour the shiso, make sure you use a vodka named after a poet.


If you've had a hard night "testing" the vodka we made, you can always make tea from the dried leaves in pile B. Tea is after all, just dried leaves in hot water. Shiso tea tastes a bit grassy, so I wouldn't dry shiso on purpose to make tea -- there's a reason you can't buy shiso tea on the market.

shiso tea

Shiso, may you R.I.P..

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A Chinese-Canadian expat living in Poland. Filling in the time here blogging about Asian food and culture while waiting for my crypto positions to turn the right way.

Asia Polka
Asia Polka

Asian food and culture from the perspective of a Chinese Canadian expat living in Poland.

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