Oriental Herb: Shiso (紫蘇) To Revive Your Energy

Shiso (Parilla frutescens) is one of the most widely used culinary herbs in Japanese cuisine. It is one of my favorite herbs, as its exotic aroma accentuates almost any dish. For those of us who don’t have a Green Thumb, it's not a difficult plant to grow, as long as it gets enough sun light. I have made many attempts to grow it in my NY apartment room in the past, however, there unfortunately wasn't enough sun light for Shiso to thrive. Now that I have access to an open field in the countryside, I have been enjoying fresh Shiso for the entire summer! It's like heaven to be around abundant Shiso. :) 

Here in the states, Shiso is called 'Japanese basil.’ Easy enough to imagine... it's such a versatile herb for Japanese people just as basil is so important for Italian cuisine. There are two kinds of Shiso: aka-shiso <red (purple) shiso> and ao-shiso <blue (green) shiso>. In Kampored (purple) is the one used as medicine, while blue (green) is mainly used as food. In my opinion, the red is a little rough and firm, and blue ismore tender and more aromatic. Due to those characteristics, blue was eaten up by wild animals quickly in country side, and only red has been available for us humans to eat. I still enjoy it fully. I am hoping to see Shiso in local markets one day soon!

There are many therapeutic benefits of Shiso. They are remarkably high in anti-oxidants, anti-sepsis, and detoxification. These actions have been utilized in Japanese food culture for a long time in history; you may have seen green leaves right by fresh sashimi (or sushi) in Japanese restaurant… These garnishes are kept nearby to prevent the raw fish from spoiling.

Shiso is a purple herb that brings us alive, quite literally! In Japan, Shiso is believed to cleanse the blood. There is an anecdote behind the name, shiso (紫蘇) —One man, who was dying from a severe food poison, was given a Shiso decoction, and soon after, he was recovered.— 紫 means 'purple', and 蘇 means 'revival.’

Interested in a homemade Shiso tincture? Contact me here!

Freshly harvested Shiso in PA, 2017

Freshly harvested Shiso in PA, 2017

Harvesting: June ~ October: Flowers come out at the end of summer. 

Part used: Leaves, Seeds and Flowers

Method: Tea, Tincture (seeds or fresh leaves are preferred) 

Action: Anti-microbial, Detoxifying, Intestinal regulator, Stomachic, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Anti-tussive, Expectorant, and Anti-depressant

Indication: Onset of cold, loss of appetite, food poisoning, (summer) heat lathery, allergy, phlegm, constipation

Herbal Mayonnaise upon your mood

Culinary herbs are so useful to enrich meals. So are condiments! ...So why don't I combine both and make my herbal condiments, that are so flavorful and has medicinal benefits at the same time. Mayonnaise is such a useful condiment in our kitchen, and ...who doesn't like Mayo!? 

Dina Falconi, herbalist in upstate NY, has a great herbal recipe book "FORAGING & FEASTING: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook". I apply her recipe on my mayonnaise with herbs of my pick. 

I like bitter as a flavor. Because bitters have a lot of benefits; bitters promote saliva and bile production, bitters are hepatic, overall they are great digestive aids! ...So my pick is parsley and a bit of thyme this time. I'd like to share the benefits from ingesting parsley.

Parsley has been treated as just a garnish on plates while it can deliver so much more to us. Parsley can provide...

Anti-Oxidant property: Beta carotene, an antioxidant, can protect our cells from free-radicals.

Bone health improvement: Excellent source of Vitamin K which is closely related to bone health.

Anti-cancer property: Myricetin, a flavonol, in parsley has been shown to be effective on chemopreventive. Also chlorophyll is a compound that can support blocking carcinogenic affect from overly burnt from animal meat.

Diuretic property: That means parsley can flush things out of the body. Very detoxifing. Its diuretic action can be well used for urinary tract infections, kidney stone, and gallbladder stone. Edema can be alleviated as well. 

*Roots are more diuretic than leaves + stems

Also, parsley is high in Vitamin C, has numerous benefits in our overall health, and minerals (iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, potassium, and copper). 

Here in recipe, I used Garlic as well. Garlic alone can give us so many therapeutic action along with great accent and flavor on foods. Known to have a great deal of actions, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, hypotensive, lowering cholesterol... Here is the important fact to take advantage of those actions, that is... to crash, chopped, or slice raw garlic cloves and leave them for 10 min. before cooking! Allicin is the compound giving us all those benefits. Garlic clove itself doesn't contain Allicin. Alliin (compound) and alliinase (enzyme) are in its cell separately. By chopping it up and break the cell structure, those two can react to each other and create Allicin. We need to let this magic happen by giving some time.


Here are what you prepare... Please remember that quality matters here.

• 2 fresh good quality egg yolks

• 1 tbsp of lemon or lime juice

• 1 tbsp of vinegar

• 2 cloves of garlic

• 0.5 tsp of sea salt

• 1 cup of oil (good quality olive oil is perfect. cold pressed, organic)

• 3~8 tbsp of 1~2 kinds of fresh herbs you like (It's a suggested dosage, but I'd say you can over-do herbs!)

I personally like mayonnaise to be vinegarish than creamy. So I'd bump up the amount of lemon or lime juice and/or vinegar than Dina's recipe. Also if you want mayonnaise to be light, you can add egg white.

1. Egg yolks in food processor and mix for 30 sec.

2. Add lemon juice, vinegar, and salt and mix for 15 sec.

3. Pour oil slowly and mix 3~4 min. until it creates an emulsion.

4. Place the mayonnaise in the clean glass jar and store in the fridge. It'll be flavorful for 2 month.


Oriental Herb: Dokudami ドクダミ for Detox

I'd like to introduce an oriental herb, Dokudami (Houttuynia cordata), from my home, Japan. It's commonly known as a medicinal plant in our history, appeared in "Yamato honzo: Medicinal Herbs of Japan" (1708) by Ekiken Kaibara; "it's called 'ten-medicine (薬)' in Japanese Kampo, from its potency that has medicinal actions as ten herbs can give." Detox herb.

Dokudami (Houttuynia)&nbsp;in Japan, June 2016

Dokudami (Houttuynia) in Japan, June 2016

Since I started herbal study here in States, I've realized it's not common here, wheres it grows everywhere in Japan. It has an exceptionally distinctive oder and taste. It took a while for me to get used to the flavor as a child ...seriously. Yet, I have a strong fondness for it.

"Good medicine is bitter to the mouth"

I have a 'bitter' story to share. I had been suffered from severe acne during my childhood, entire adolescence all way to adult period. My mother, coming from "food is medicine" spirit big time, tried anything on me to heal it. Acne was red, deep rooted, big eruptions sitting all over my face and back. It was a horrible experience for a girl at a vulnerable age, as you can imagine. One approach she gave me was to drink dokudami-cha (tea). It was not about the flavor. It was about searching a method to get rid of ugly pimples. After some times, my gustatory sensor got used to the flavor, and started drinking it just like water. I assume this is how I built my high tolerance for wide range of tastes.

It's usually mixed with other tea, such as pearl barley. It tastes pleasant and is smoother to take.

It has a pretty, white flower with heart-shape leaves. Yet, the name, doku (poison) dame (store), comes from its wild oder thrown off.

Harvesting: May~June. Harvested in flowering period. It is ideally dried under the sun, then under half shaded area.

Part used: Aerial part

Method: Tea, Tincture, Poultice, Bath

Action: Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Diuretic, Laxative, Drainage, Pyretic, Cardiotonic

Indication: Tinea pedis, Skin issues, Acne, Edema, Urethra inflammation, Constipation, Hypertension, Arterial sclerosis, Empyema


Cilantro Pesto: Tasty Heavy metal Detox

Cilantro (also known as CorianderCoriandrum sativam) is widely used in culinary scenes all over the world. We love it because it enriches the flavor of the dish. 

Leaves and seeds are the parts used medicinally.

Seeds are used for female complaints, such as heavy menstrual flow and urinary tract infections, and good digestive. But here, I'd like to introduce another beneficial feature of cilantro leaf that makes you want to eat more.

It is a very useful discovery, that cilantro can cleanse heavy metals deposited in our organ(s) and nervous system, made by Dr. Yoshiaki Omura, from the Heart Disease Research Foundation, New York.

Some of known toxic heavy metals are...

• Lead

• Mercury

• Aluminum

• Cadmium

• Arsenic

• Berylium

and more...

How do they go into our body? ...We are actually exposed to them every day. Air-pollutants, tobacco, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, cosmetics etc. Mercury is one of the known toxic metals, contained in vaccine as additives, deodorant products, sanitizers, and our favorite sushi topping, tuna.

And they could cause...

• Free radicals

• Accelaration of the aging process

• Poor immunity

• Learning disability

• Impairment of neural function

• Myocardial disorder

Conditions above increase the risk of arterial sclerosis, hypertension, dementia, collagen disease, osteoporosis, age-related maculopathy, cancer, chronic fatigue, numbness, headache, stomachache, change in mental conditions (depression, loss of concentration, brain-fog), poor memory, abnormal behavor, sleeping disorder, dermatitis, etc.

Pesto is a great way to consume a good chunk of cilantro daily. It's tasty and can go with many dishes, with fishes, meats, breads, pasta and so on.

Cilantro Detox Pesto Recipe:

     Fresh Cilantro (Coriander) – 2 cups

     Garlic – 4 cloves

     Nuts (and/or seeds) you like – 1/3 cup

     Flaxseed Oil – 2/3 cup

     Lemon Juice – 4 tbsp

     1. Put cilantro and oil in food processor and chop.

     2. Add garlic, nuts (seeds), lemon juice.

     3. Mix till the ingredients are blended into a paste.

Dosage: Take 2 tsp of the cilantro pesto daily for 3 weeks for cleansing toxic metals out of body.