[a medicinal cooking blog: using food as medicine to treat whatever may ail you]

Friday, March 4, 2011

Guest Post: Shiso Leaf Uses

A little about Jeremy:

Jeremy Cornish is an Acupuncturist and Ju Jutsu teacher located in Naperville, IL. He is currently involved in multiple projects including an acupuncture stress study, "Acupuncture Happy Hour" on-site in offices, and Executive Ju Jutsu, which is an executive coaching/team building experience. Keep up with him at www.onecirclewellness.com

Eating sushi is a joy. I believe that the rituals and accoutrement around the process add a lot to the experience. Most people enjoy the wasabi, the soy sauce, and even the pickled ginger that typically come with sushi. But have you ever wondered why they stick a piece of green plastic grass in the mix?

That green plastic grass is a tragedy. In Chinese Medicine, we recognize the energetic effects of foods. For example, sushi is a raw, typically cold food. Cold is typically not conducive to digestion, so traditional people would eat herbs to balance the cold effect. This is why we usually see warm spices like ginger, or wasabi on the plate. Also, miso soup and green tea warm the body and aid the digestion.

There is an herb called shiso, or Zi Su Ye, or Perilla Leaf. This is a purple or green leaf that we use in Chinese Medicine for its warm, acrid nature (can help with acute cold/flu symptoms). The warm nature is good for the digestion, and helps to offset the cold of the sushi. In very nice sushi places, this leaf (pictured above) will accompany the sushi. You can eat this. It tends to have a lemon/mint flavor.

The other benefit of the shiso leaf is its ability to kill parasites, and prevent mild food poisoning. Those are two things to be considered anytime we eat raw fish! To me, the green plastic grass is a sign that the meaning has been lost. The people serving the sushi have forgotten the importance of the shiso leaf. Using herbs and spices to balance the energetics of food used to be common sense, and common practice.

Don’t let your simple medicines be replaced by plastic! Demand the real thing! Say Yes to shiso!!

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