Make Ahead

Korean Perilla Pesto

October 17, 2009
5 Ratings
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

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 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

What You'll Need
  • 25-30 Perilla (shiso) leaves
  • 1/2 cup toasted pinenuts
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (the best you can afford)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend everything until it is a smooth paste.
  2. Toss it in a bowl with some freshly cooked pasta of your choice and serve, garnishing with some leftover pine nuts.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Binte's Kitchen
    Binte's Kitchen
  • Tamar
  • PENNY032

3 Reviews

PENNY032 August 22, 2019
I found a huge amount of this plant in my yard and I love it on everything, especially pasta! In Indiana and Kentucky we call this beautiful plant Beefsteak.
I just found it this summer and I was wondering ways to have it everyday throughout the winter.
Can the pesto be frozen, dried, planted in a south window or all three?
I can't afford organic veggies from the store and I do not trust the herbicides and pesticides that they spray on veggies and I definitely do not trust Monsanto/Bayer's Round-up!
Thank you for your fantastic recipe, because it is 5 star!
Binte's K. April 1, 2011
this looks incredible!! love it!
Tamar October 17, 2009
How does this pesto taste? One of my husband’s coworkers said that it’s "kind of earthy and herbaceous. I like it. It has lots of garlic, which I like."