Secret Ingredient

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Common to Japanese cooking, shiso is a broad, green-and-purple leaf with a serrated edge. Also known as perilla, beefsteak plant and Japanese basil, the crepe-textured leaf is related to mint and basil and tastes like both. Used as a garnish with sushi and sashimi, it’s also used to add flavour and colour to preserved ginger and pickled umeboshi plums. Shiso leaves are sold at Sanko (730 Queen West, 416-703-4550) and Tai Kong (310 Spadina, 416-581-0129). Here’s a super summery chill-out recipe for green tea and shiso granita ice with fresh cherries. Place 2 tablespoons of loose green tea, 6 shiso leaves and 3/4 cup sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add 3 cups of boiling water, stir to dissolve the sugar, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain into a clean bowl and cool to room temperature. Once it’s cooled, stir again and place the bowl in the freezer for about an hour, until the mixture begins to freeze around the edges and across the surface. Whisk to break up the ice crystals. Return to the freezer. Remove and whisk again once an hour until all the liquid has frozen and has a grainy consistency, about five hours. When you’re ready to serve it, spoon scoops into serving bowls and top with fresh cherries.

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