The Tohoku region is justly famous for its kurumi (walnuts) – large, meaty orbs that produce an incredibly rich, aromatic paste when roasted and crushed. The nuts are mixed with another Tohoku product -- Sendai miso, a full-bodied red (burnished brown, really) fermented soybean paste --  to make a fabulous nutty paste. Some Tohoku chefs will add a spicy spark to the sweet-and-salty mixture by adding a pinch of shichimi tōgarashi (blend of 7 fiery spices).

This nutty paste becomes the filling for SHISO MAKI, a signature dish of the entire Tohoku region.

Try your hand at making shiso maki. Download the recipe here.

Welcome to

A Taste of the Tohoku

where you can expand your repertoire of regional dishes. Each post to this page will feature a Tohoku specialty. This issue features SHISO MAKI:

In the summertime when herbaceous, fresh shiso grows in abundance, nuggets of nutty filling are wound in the herb’s aromatic leaves before being seared in sesame oil.

shiso maki searing in the skillet
No matter where in the world you may be, you can support economic recovery of the region by making a contribution to Sponsor Fellows for Tohoku and Japan’s Recovery. This project, launched and managed by Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities (ETIC) has a dual goal: creating jobs in the area devastated by the disaster and developing a new generation of business leaders in Japan. To learn more about the Fellows Project, click here.

rolling shiso maki

If you are unable to source fresh shiso, try using red-leafed lettuce (trimmed to 2-inch squares) as the wrapper, tossing in whatever fresh herbs, minced, you might have on hand (mint is refreshing, chives are pleasantly spicy).

You don’t have to skillet-sear the rolls – the filling is fully cooked and shiso, other herbs, and lettuce are usually eaten raw – but you may be surprised at how mellow otherwise sharp or bitter greens become when heat is briefly applied.