Why It Works
- Evenly layering the marinade with the perilla leaves ensures they are equally seasoned.
- Thin perilla leaves only require two hours to fully marinate, making this style of pickle much more convenient than time-intensive Napa cabbage kimchi.
If you live in an area with a big Asian community then you've probably seen little old Asian ladies hawking produce on the side of the road. They stand out in the hot sun selling produce at very cheap prices, and they are there day after day. Right now the Korean ladies are selling stacks of perilla leaves, though if you go to any Korean grocery store, you'll see them being sold as sesame leaves. I don't understand why they refer to perilla leaves as sesame leaves, but they do.
Perilla is actually the term for a number of different species of plants in the mint family. The Japanese use shiso, which is smaller and mintier than the broad, rounded perilla leaves favored by the Koreans.
The flavor of perilla, grassy with notes of anise or licorice, is pleasing like any other herb. The real advantage is their size. You can do more with the bigger leaves than just chop them up and use them as a garnish (though doing so is perfectly acceptable and delicious).
Perilla leaves can be stir-fried with garlic and veggies, deep-fried in a batter of flour and eggs, pickled or marinated, or used as wrappers. (Or any combination of these things, like wrapping something in perilla then battering it and deep-frying in oil.) If I have extra perilla leaves on hand, I like to use them as I would lettuce, wrapping the leaves around rice and bits of seasoned fish or grilled meat.
One of my favorite preparations for Korean perilla leaves is to marinate the leaves in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, garlic, and lots of Korean chile powder. The result is a mildly pickled, spicy side dish that takes no effort and is, in my opinion, just as good as baechu kimchi.
Wash and dry the perilla leaves. To make the marinade, mix everything together in a small bowl, adding more stock as needed so that the paste has a smooth consistency.
In a container with a lid, lay a perilla leaf flat on the bottom and add a small spoonful of the marinade, about 1/4 teaspoon, spreading it evenly on the leaf. Layer another perilla leaf on top and repeat until the leaves and marinade are used up.
Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 weeks. Eat with rice and other side dishes.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 1g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 5mg||27%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|