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!