Yukari, Not Your Japanese Girl Friend

Posted on Sep 3, 2015 in Hiroko's Blog, Recipes

Dawn's shisoYukari is a name of Japanese female . Another ‘yukari’ is a salty, sour and fragrant condiment made from purple shiso leaves. Shiso season, green or purple, is coming to end soon. Hope you made and enjoyed shiso juice (recipe is in the archive of this blog; August, 2013) to counter the heat of this hot summer. There is a reason to consume shiso during hot months. Shiso has antiseptic property; shiso alleviates pollen allergies; shiso strengthens our immune system; shiso relieves stress.

In the production of umeboshi, pickled salty plum (my recent blog w/ recipe, PICKLED SALTY PLUM), purple shiso plays an important role. Matured fruit of ume, Japanese plum, which is used to make umeboshi, is yellow color at the time of harvesting and pickling. The deep purplish-red color of finished umeboshi is the result of pickling the yellow plums with aka-jiso, purple shiso leaves. Aka-jiso is rich in anthocyanin. The pigment anthocyanin in aka-jiso leaves let the leaves turn even deeper purple color when it contacts with citric acid in ume during pickling. Plum takes over this gorgeous deep reddish hue along with distinctive aroma during pickling.

Umeboshi making, thus, produces a byproduct, pickled aka-jiso. Pickled aka-jiso is quite salty and sour in taste. We make a delicious condiment called yukari from this byproduct.

What to do with yukari? Sprinkle it over cooked rice. Pickle vegetables with it. Add to dressings and sauces. How about mixing it with cream cheese for your bagel. Find more ways to enjoy this new Japanese condiment. Here is a recipe of making yukari at home.

shiso rinsedumeboshi vinegarpickled shiso


shiso being dried150g aka-shiso leaves

1/4 cup sea salt

1/4 cup umeboshi vinegar (I used Emperor’s Kitchen brand)

1. Transfer the shiso leaves along with half of the sea salt into a large bowl. Toss the shiso leaves with the salt and leave them for 15 minutes. Rub the leaves well between hands to remove harsh liquid from the leaves.

2. Transfer the leaves to a strainer and put it under cold tap water. Rinse the leaves. Drain the leaves. Transfer the leaves to the bowl and add the remaining sea salt. Rub the leaves again with the salt to remove excess harsh juice out of the leaves. Transfer the leaves to the strainer and rinse them under cold tap water. Drain and squeeze the leaves tightly to remove water.

3. Transfer the leaves to a clean, glass container and pour the plum vinegar over the leaves. Cover the top of the leaves home made yukariwith a plastic wrap, place a heavy weight on top and refrigerate for a week.

4. Find two consecutive bright sunny days. Remove the leaves from the container, drain them briefly, and transfer them to a strainer. Dry the leaves in the sun for two days or until the leaves are completely dry. Press the dried leaves through a sieve. Keep the yukari in a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate.Fluke Yukari