Native Californian Nancy Singleton Hachisu has been living with her family for 26 years now in rural Saitama, Japan, where she heads their local prefecture’s Slow Food convivium. As a follow-up to her first book on Japanese Farm Food, her latest undertaking, Preserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen, offers a glimpse into these long-held artisanal practices.
Although the tradition of preserving food as a way of everyday life has largely passed from the hands of Japanese grandmothers to those of artisans or, in many cases, factory production, a younger generation of passionate “fermenting and pickling aficionados,” as she calls them, are reviving and continuing these methods. Nancy shares this recipe for Shiso Maki or Shiso Rolls, which she learned during a visit to the Iwate prefecture. She suggests enjoying these with a bowl of hot rice as a savory-sweet snack to go with your afternoon green tea.
Shiso Maki (Shiso Rolls)
Makes 50 Ingredients 50 large green shiso leaves, unwashed 30 tbsp (600g) koji (brown rice) miso 10 tbsp walnuts, finely chopped 5 tbsp organic granulated sugar 5 tbsp black sesame seeds, toasted 2–3 small dried red chiles, cut into fine rings Canola oil, for frying Preparation: Mix the sugar into the miso with the dried chile and heat in a small frying pan over low heat to melt the sugar crystals. Fold in the chopped walnuts, black sesame seeds and a pinch of salt. Let cool. To assemble: Do not wash the shiso leaves. If you want to remove dust or dirt, wipe with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Working at a large table or counter area, lay the shiso leaves out, bright green side down. Spoon a heaping ½-tablespoon of the miso mixture onto the base of each leaf. Make sure you have enough filling before rolling. Roll the leaves up and stack onto a dinner plate. Film a small amount of oil into a large, heavy frying pan and warm over low heat. Fry the rolls lightly on sides until bright green, but not brown or blistered. Eat hot when freshly fried or cold directly from the refrigerator. The leaves will darken slightly, but the rolls keep for several months, stored in a plastic container in the fridge.