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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Please Pass the Perilla!

I recently joined an organic “community supported agriculture” (CSA) program. I’ll write more on that later, I want to share one of the produce items I have been enjoying immensely. It’s called Korean Perilla. It’s described as having a flavor between mint and basil. Maybe…  

It’s usually a request/swap item, so I have been requesting it. I’ve tried it roughly chopped in salad – that was OK. Then I sautéed it with some other greens such as kale and chard. Very good! Then I realized what it really reminded me of… grape leaves! I love dolmas, so I decided to try it that way.

To take this little food experiment to the next level, I put together a ‘perilla roll station’! I did two basic fillers – one was a pre-cooked meat mix made with ground sirloin, brown rice and tomato sauce and the other was plain brown rice.  

Next step was to blanch the perilla leaves. I just tossed small bundles into boiling salted water for about 45 seconds. When I pulled them out, they went straight into an ice water bath to stop the cooking. I blotted the excess moisture and they were ready to go. 

From there I started pulling ingredients and seasonings I thought might work well with the distinct flavor of the perilla. I had tomatoes (fresh and canned), capers, pine nuts, fresh pesto, and 3 different cheeses; fresh mozzarella, Seaside cheddar and Velveeta (OK, I know it’s debatable if that is cheese or not! LOL). I pulled out several ethnic spice blends.

Then it was time to play!  I kept track of what I was doing by making a list on my dry erase board. 

Meat mix and pesto.

Meat mix, canned tomato and capers.  

To make the rolls I overlapped two larger leaves or with the smaller leaves I made a clover pattern so they would be large enough to fill. (Even then they are a bit small).

After rolling, I placed them a baking dish until I had it filled. I’m not a big fan of tomato sauce, so I used the canned tomatoes over the top of the perilla rolls – making sure to spoon a lot of juice on top. Since the meat mix was already cooked and it was getting late and I was tired; I just heated them thru in the microwave. 

Oh. My. Goodness. They were fantastic! The fillings that were stronger flavored were best, especially in the vegetarian ones. I think the best with both fillings was the pesto. The pine nuts gave a nice crunch. Of the cheeses, the cheddar definitely stood out.  

Besides being tasty, they are quite healthy. I’ll be requesting perilla leaves in all my boxes from now on!


  1. Have never heard of this before but it sounds interesting.

  2. This leaf was new to me. I like the way you experimented to come up with a good dish.

  3. Happy to find your blog through the CSA. I've stuffed the perilla leaves before. And made pesto and slipped them onto sandwiches and in summer rolls. I look forward to seeing what other ideas you come up with.


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