Shiso Salsa Cruda

Shiso Salsa Cruda

My mother often thinks of me when she goes to the market and brings me home veggies and fruits that she knows I will like.  The other day she went to the Farmers Market at the Hill Stead Museum in Farmington, CT and brought me tomatillos and serrano peppers.  We have found that many serrano peppers grown locally are not as spicy as the ones in Mexico.  She promised that these were really spicy, and that I should make a Salsa Cruda with them.  Salsa Cruda is a raw salsa, in which the tomates (tomatillos in English) are not roasted before being blended.  I went through my fridge and found that I had a ton of herbs, except the only one that I was missing was cilantro.  I didn’t want to have to go out and buy cilantro, but at the same time, I didn’t want to stray too far from what I wanted.  I ended up adding the Japanese herb shiso, which is also known as perilla and sesame leaf.  It has a flavor that combines mint, basil, and fennel in very slight undertones.  It is fun to cook with, and I have also mentioned it as a possible taco shell.  I absolutely loved the shiso in the salsa cruda.  One would never think that it was replacing cilantro as a main ingredient; it came through as a perfect match for the tomatillos and serrano.  I poured it over my black beans and was in heaven.  I promise you that Shiso Salsa Cruda will be a favorite summer salsa for time eternal!  To make the salsa, blend together a dozen tomatillos, 2 serranos (you can use more or less, according to your taste in spice), 1 clove garlic, a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and salt to taste. You will have about 2 cups of salsa, which should last about a week in the fridge.  Use over hard-boiled eggs, with black beans, stirred into hummus, atop quesadillas, and of course with chips.  !Buen provecho!

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