Korean Perilla Pesto

October 17, 2009

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 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.

Serves: 8


  • 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
In This Recipe


  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.

More Great Recipes:
Korean|Vegetable|Pesto|Make Ahead|Appetizer|Entree

Reviews (2) Questions (0)

2 Reviews

Binte's K. April 1, 2011
this looks incredible!! love it!
Author Comment
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."