The main ingredient of our recipe is called the Pernilla leaf . The Korean word for this leaf is kkaenip. The Japanese call it shiso, and that term has become more well known in America as well. Some books mistranslate it as “sesame leaf” but it bears no direct relation to sesame at all.
It is an herb in the mint family, somewhat related to basil. Most Koreans either make it into kimchi or they eat it raw and wrap it around rice for a tasty snack. Every time I go to the Korean grocery store, I noticed these leaves there so I decided to come up with a Koreafornia spin on them. The best idea I came up with was to make them into a pesto. As I was searching for potential kkaenip leaf pesto competition, I discovered that blogger Joe McPherson at zenkimchi.com posted a version of this recipe on his blog back in January 2008.
This is proof that I am not the only Westerner who loves Korean food and enjoys trying to come up with ways of making non-Korean foods into Korean style masterpieces and vice versa. —Tamar
Perilla (shiso) leaves
extra-virgin olive oil (the best you can afford)