Green and Red Shiso (Perilla frutescens) seed
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Perilla is a genus of annual herb that is a member of the mint family.
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The leaves resemble stinging nettle leaves, being slightly rounder in shape. It is also widely known as the Beefsteak plant. Its essential oils provide for a strong taste whose intensity might be compared to that of mint or fennel. It is considered rich in minerals and vitamins, has anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to help preserve and sterilize other foods.
It is sometimes known as purple mint, Japanese basil, or wild coleus (like basil and coleus, it is a member of the mint family). The leaves, which are rich in calcium and iron, are used for seasoning, coloring, pickling and garnishing.
Japanese and Korean cooks use perilla leaves fresh or pickled to flavor rice, fish, soups and vegetables. They also use them chopped with gingerroot in stir-fries, tempura and salads, as well as serving the salted seeds as a snack. Green shiso leaves are used by the Japanese in western dishes as a substitute for sweet basil.
The seeds have a sweet, pungent taste and are especially good when crushed and added to herb mustards.
The medicinal uses of perilla include treatment of such ailments as indigestion, colds, malaria, coughs, and even cholera.
Perilla grows in any light from shade to full sun, and it can be started from seed in well-drained soil. Be sure to keep seedlings fairly dry until the plants reach two inches in height and pinch them back as they grow to make the plant bushy. After the first year, they easily self-seed.
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