The Foraging Series: Perilla Leaves
There are many different ways to get nutrients into our bodies. Plants found from a local forest or garden can be used as unexpected and healthy meal staples, especially in Korean culture. A favorite foraging herb and Korean side dish is known as the perilla leaf.
Quick Health Facts
Perilla is a herb whose leaves and seeds are used to make medicine. Perilla has been used to treat asthma, nausea, sunstroke, inducing sweating, and to reduce muscle spasm. Leaf extracts of perilla have shown antioxidant, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, anorexigenic, and tumor-preventing properties.
It is easy to grow your own perilla plant, and gain a new foraging snack. When planting perilla seeds, it is best to space them 6-12 inches apart in well drained and most soil. Full to partial sun exposure with a light covering of the soil is best for these plants. The seeds will germinate rapidly at 68 degrees F, or even a slightly cooler temperature.
Perilla leaves have a very earthy, minty, and cumin like taste to them without seasoning. Korean seasoning on these little leaves however enhance the flavor and make them addicting to eat with rice. Some Koreans have nicknamed this dish ‘rice stealer’ (Bap-Doduk, 밥-도둑), because of how the flavorful leaves makes you consume large amounts of rice with it. You will understand after eating it!
The Perilla leaves in Korean cooking have been called (banchan, 반찬). The Perilla leaves in their marinated side dish form can also be known as Pickled Perilla Leaves (Kkaennip Jangajji, 깻잎 장아찌), or Perilla Kimchi (Kkaennip Kimchi, 깻잎 김치).
The leaves can be prepared in less than 10 minutes, but are recommended to let sit in the marinade overnight. Enjoy it for all meals the next day with a soft bed of fluffy rice and you will understand why the leaves are nicknamed “rice stealer!”
Use up to 32 Large perilla leaves
Seasoning sauce (mix in medium bowl)
- 10 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Korean chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon spring onion, finely chopped
- After washing the Perilla leaves, all you have to do is mix the seasoning sauce ingredients together and then soak the perilla leaves in it! Enjoy it with a bed of rice.
Witten and Photogrpahed by Isabella Cammarata