Marinated Perilla Leaves Recipe

Made with large, aromatic herb leaves, this style of Korean pickle gives kimchi a run for its money.

A plate of marinated perilla leaves

Serious Eats / Chichi Wang

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.

Several green, jagged-edged perilla leaves are stacked on a work surface.

Serious Eats / Chichi Wang

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.

July 2011

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 20 mins
Serves: 8 servings

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Ingredients

  • 20 Korean perilla leaves

For the Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons coarse ground gochugaru (Korean chile powder)

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon anchovy stock, dashi, or water

  • 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic

Directions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 weeks. Eat with rice and other side dishes.

Special Equipment

Lidded container

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
4 Calories
0g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 4
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 40mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 5mg 27%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 21mg 0%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)