Shiso, also known as ‘Japanese Basil’, raises a question with all who taste it: is it a basil or a mint? Neither one nor the other, Shiso has a unique taste that is hard to describe. Some say it’s ‘citrusy’, while others call it ‘herbaceous’ – and others still call it ‘sweet’! What is undisputable is that it can be used to give flavour and colour to many different Japanese dishes, from umeboshi to sushi and sashimi. Its green and purple, jagged-edged leaves are becoming more widely used in Western gourmet cooking and mixology, although it has been around since Victorian times, when shiso was popular as a landscape plant. And its appeal extends beyond its crazy flavour and attractive appearance – the old martial-arts masters claimed that shiso kept them flexible, youthful and vital. Perhaps it’s true – it’s worth a try!