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An aromatic herb with square stems that can grow to be six feet tall and bear large, curved leaves with spiked edges surrounding small pink and white colored flowers. As a member of the mint and basil family of plants, Shiso has a somewhat "hairy" appearance but all parts of the plant can be used when preparing foods. The leaves can be used as whole leaves or cut into small narrow strips to be used as a food wrap or as a garnish. The flowering buds of the plant can be used as a garnish to decorate salads and side dishes.

Traditionally grown as a red or green variety, the red Shiso provides a milder flavor than the green variety of Shiso. Both types are used in seasoning sushi but the red shiso is generally used in pickling foods such as umeboshi or ginger. Green shiso is often served in salads and a variety of cooked dishes. Shiso may also be referred to as "perilla" or "oba."

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