Dip is usually made with cream or yoghurt, but my Perilla and Tofu Dip is dairy-free and made with 100% vegetables. The slightly minty flavour of perilla is so refreshing. It is a low-calorie dip even if you eat it all yourself!
I made today’s dish recently to share with my friends for a BYO drinks & nibbles after playing golf. On such occasions, I sometimes bring a new dish that I am experimenting with and ask my friends to give me feedback.
One of my friends has dietary restrictions and cannot eat dairy products, wheat etc. So, I decided to make a tofu-based dip with vegetable sticks to go with it. It was well received not only by this friend, but also other friends.
Tofu can be bland but Perilla and Tofu Dip is a simple tofu recipe with full of flavour.
There are different species of perilla leaves sold in Japanese/Asian grocery stores and Asian vegetables shops. They all have a minty and basil-like flavour but are quite different in size and each has a distinct flavour.
- Japanese perilla (photo above) is called ‘shiso’ (しそ or 紫蘇) in Japanese. There are green shiso and red shiso. In my post Chicken Patties Wrapped in Perilla, you can find out more about shiso.
- Korean perilla has larger leaves than the Japanese perilla and the colour of the leaf is not as deep green as the Japanese shiso. The back of the leaf can be slightly purplish. I find that the flavour of Korean perilla is stronger than Japanese perilla.
- Vietnamese perilla has smaller leaves than even the Japanese perilla. The back of the leaf is purple. It has much stronger aromatic flavour.
Just like any other leafy herbs, you need to keep the perilla leaves moist, and store them in fridge. You should place the leaves in a container to avoid direct contact with the cold air in the fridge. I rinse the leaves, wrap them together in a wet kitchen paper, and place them in an air-tight container.
My Home-grown Green Shiso
I used to buy green Japanese perilla leaves from a Japanese grocery store. They are so popular and I often went to this shop only to find that they were sold out. So last year, I bought a small perilla plant in a pot from the same grocery store and planted it in the herb garden in my backyard.
During this summer, it grew a lot with many branches and produced so many green shiso leaves. The summer has gone, and we are into autumn now, but my shiso plant is still growing new leaves. It will probably finish soon as the tip of each branch started flowering.
Shiso flowers are often served with sashimi. They are not only used as decorations but also as a condiment, along with wasabi, particularly those with only a few flowers. You are meant to scrape off the flower buds (flowers are OK too) into the soy sauce. They give a refreshing flavour to the soy sauce and removes a fishy smell from the sashimi.
When the flowers die, they will form seeds and become dry and brown. The seeds will drop on the ground and regrow in the next season.
I wanted to consume many shiso leaves at once and that’s how I decided to make Perilla and Tofu Dip.
What’s in my Perilla and Tofu Dip
The key ingredients are just shiso and tofu. The dip has a slightly sour taste from the lemon with a touch of garlic.
- Green shiso (Japanese perilla) leaves – roughly chopped
- 1 pack of silken tofu
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice
- Light soy sauce
- Grated garlic
In Australia, many of the tofu packs contain 300g / 0.7lb of tofu. For the whole 300g pack of tofu, you will need 15-20 shiso leaves, which is about 15g / 0.5oz. The size of shiso leaves can vary, particularly those grown at home.
My home-grown shiso leaves are anywhere between 5-8cm / 2-3⅛” wide. I left some leaves too long on the stem and they overgrew. If you buy shiso at a Japanese grocery store, they are about 5cm /2″ wide.
I used light soy sauce to preserve the white colour of the dip. But if you only have normal soy sauce, that’s ok to use.
How to make Perilla and Tofu Dip
You need to remove the water from the tofu until the tofu weighs about ⅔-¾ of its original weight, otherwise the dip will be watery. Once this is done, all you need to do is blitz it in a food processor.
- Place the tofu in a saucepan filled with water and bring it to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.
- Transfer the tofu to a sieve lined with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper.
- Crumble the tofu, wrap it with the kitchen paper, and squeeze the water out. The tofu should weigh about 200-225g / 0.4-0.5lb.
- Add all the ingredients including the tofu in a food processor and blitz until the tofu becomes smooth without lumps and no perilla leaf specks.
As an alternative method for reducing the weight of the tofu, you can use a microwave. Place the tofu on a microwave-safe plate with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper. Cover with a kitchen paper and heat at 600W for 5 minutes. Drain and adjust the weight by squeezing more water out.
I found that the tofu heated in the microwave had a more intense soybean smell, compared to the boiled tofu.
If you prefer, you can leave tiny lumps of tofu and perilla pieces instead of making the dip really smooth like the photos above. Below is the dip that I made with tiny specks of tofu & perilla left in the dip.
Perilla and Tofu Dip is a quick dip to make. It is a healthy dip and very low calorie, unlike most of the dips out there. I hope you like it.
Dip is usually made with cream or yoghurt, but my Perilla and Tofu Dip is dairy-free. The slightly minty flavour of perilla is so refreshing. It is a low-calorie dip even if you eat it all yourself!
- 18 shiso (Japanese perilla) leaves roughly chopped (about 15g / 0.5oz, note 1)
- 300g / 0.7lb silken tofu (also called kinugoshi tofu)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce (note 2)
- ¼ tsp grated garlic
- A pinch of salt
- A sprig of shiso flowers or chopped shiso leaf (optional)
- Carrot sticks
- Celery sticks
- Witlof/endive leaves
Place a block of tofu in a saucepan filled with water. Bring it to a boil and cook for 1 minute (note 4).
Transfer the tofu to a sieve lined with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper. Crumble the tofu, then wrap it with the lined kitchen papers. (note 4)
Squeeze the wrapped tofu to get the water out until the weight of the tofu becomes about 200-225g / 0.4-0.5lb. Let it cool down to room temperature (you can put it in the fridge to speed up the cooling process).
Put all the ingredients in a blender, including the tofu, and whiz until the shiso leaves become tiny specks and the mixture becomes smooth, without tofu lumps (note 5).
Transfer to a serving bowl. Place a sprig of shiso flower or chopped shiso on the dip (if using) and serve with veggie sticks.
1. There are green and red shiso leaves. In this recipe I used homegrown green shiso leaves. Because of the homegrown shiso leaves, the size of the leaves varied a lot. Depending on the size of your shiso leaves, you may need a larger or smaller number of leaves.
I gave you the indication of the total weight of the shiso leaves. Thi is indicative because the weight changes depending on how dry/wet the leaves are. I weighed the shiso leaves after rinsing them and pat drying.
2. I used light soy sauce to maintain the whitish green colour of the dip. But if you only have normal soy sauce, you can substitute it. The colour of the dip becomes a touch darker, that’s all.
3. I am going healthy by having just veggie sticks. But you can of course have Perilla and Tofu Dip with crackers and corn chips. Other vegetables such a broccoli, daikon, radish, Chinese cabbage, and cucumber are good too.
4. As an alternative method for reducing the weight of the tofu, you can use a microwave. Place the tofu on a microwave-safe plate with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper. Cover with a kitchen paper and heat at 600W for 5 minutes. Drain and adjust the weight by squeezing more water out.
5. If you prefer, you can leave tiny tofu lumps.
6. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 94g calories: 110kcal fat: 9.6g (15%) saturated fat: 1.3g (7%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 2.3g monounsaturated fat: 5.5g cholesterol: 0mg (0%) sodium: 313mg (13%) potassium: 129mg (4%) carbohydrates: 1.7g (1%) dietary fibre: 0.5g (2%) sugar: 0.6g protein: 5.9g vitamin a: 3% vitamin c: 2.`1% calcium: 7.1% iron: 7.7%