Salmon with Akajiso (Red Shiso) Pesto

I hate talking about it, but I’ve been sort of counting my calories the past week or so. I should have started a few months ago, but we’ve only just started to have nice weather. Cloudy days were invented for chicken and dumplings, and we’ve had plenty of both around here. But now, alas, I am taking my young son to swimming lessons every day, and there’s nothing as unforgiving as dappled morning light, glinting cruelly off the water onto a pale, soft tummy. My pale, soft tummy.

My belly used to be as taut as the head of a conga, and then it housed a growing boy. Though I think I have bounced back fairly neatly from childbirth, there’s just a slack, lived-in quality to my skin and my body that will only be exacerbated as I continue to grow into myself.  It’s easier to eat less cheese than to accept a softer version of myself.

This is a nice piece of broiled salmon, a perfect Summer Thing. It is a loose pesto of akajiso, also known as red perilla, or red shiso. Normally, akajiso is used to give umeboshi their signature rosy hue, but it makes a wonderful sauce when pureed with sesame oil and black sesame seeds, shallots, and a dribble of ponzu.

Served with a bowl of steamed rice and a warm salad of lightly sauteed radishes and snow peas, it is a perfectly balanced meal; summery and all that, full of antioxidants and those things that let us pat ourselves on the back. I didn’t even miss the cheese.