Style & Beauty

What Is Shiso? Gwyneth Paltrow's New Scent Will Mystify Most Of Us

We can't be-leaf this.

Gwyneth Paltrow has tried to get us onboard with all sorts of funky products via her website and newsletter Goop, from vaginal eggs to mold-resistant shower heads. And per usual, the brand’s latest must-buy leaves us scratching our heads.

This week, Goop debuted a signature perfume and candle fragrance meant to smell like shiso. But before we dish out $165 per bottle on the Goop website, we want to know what shiso is, and what it smells like.

Shiso perfume on the Goop website
Shiso perfume on the Goop website

For many of us in the American audience who don’t know, shiso is a Japanese herb perhaps best known for its role as a wasabi holder on sushi trays. But there’s really a lot more value to shiso than that.

Shiso often serves as decoration on sushi platters.
Shiso often serves as decoration on sushi platters.

What is shiso?

Shiso is a member of the mint family and a popular ingredient in Asian cooking. In Victorian England, it was called beefsteak plant. Perilla is a more current American term for shiso, but may also refer to the broader family of mint plants of which shiso is a part.

The shiso plant&nbsp;comes in both <a href="" target="_blank">red&nbsp;and green varieties</a>.
The shiso plant comes in both red and green varieties.

What does shiso perfume smell like?

According to Goop, using shiso as a primary scent is rare in the perfume world (which appears true: a quick web search surfaced only one other perfume made to smell like the stuff). Goop says its fragrance smells like “spicy greens, crushed stems, and ancient exotic woods.” Translation: shiso “has a scent reminiscent of cinnamon and cloves,” as Tao executive chef Ralph Scamardella told Food Republic last year.

How does shiso grow?

Shiso grows in various climates all over Japan. You can seed shiso in your regular garden or start it in a seed starting tray, then transition it to soil once it grows tall. Shiso is popular as a decorative garden plant that can easily be tossed into dishes.

It sounds like I should eat it, not wear it.

You can do both! Shiso has a minty flavor that performs beautifully in stir-fries, meat dishes and traditional pickled plums. It’s used as a garnish and is often sliced and added to noodle dishes. American restaurants have taken note of shiso lately, adding it to fancy cocktails and secret menu items like grilled scallops. Try it out!

Summer peach salad with shiso from from Rose's Luxury in Washington, D.C.
Summer peach salad with shiso from from Rose's Luxury in Washington, D.C.
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