I have a weakness for perilla leaves.

From the moment I first tasted them, pickled in a delicious Korean-style sauce, I was hooked! And I’m sure you will be too.

Perilla is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae), yet the taste of the leaves is like no other. It reminds me of a cross between mint and licorice (some would even say cinnamon), adding a unique flavor to any culinary dish. While I personally love marinating mine, I’ve also read that you can toss perilla in salads OR use the leaves as a wrap for rice…yum!

In my opinion, perilla is a perfect beginners herb because the oil content is so high that once you become familiar with the scent/taste, you can easily identify it. Furthermore, and probably most reassuring, is that there is no known poisonous look-alike to perilla. It is genuinely a safe herb to forage.

Medicinal Uses & Perilla Benefits

Perilla is a popular food in Asian countries, dating all the way back to the Song Dynasty, but it is also known for its medicinal and nutritious properties. Used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), perilla can help treat coughs, chest congestion, nausea, and even asthma. The leaves also contain rosmarinic acid, which can help reduce allergy flair ups or attacks.

Believed to be anti-carcinogenic, perilla is thought to clear sodium-nitrates from the body. Helping support healthy immune function, the leaves are high in antioxidants, and provides calcium, phosphorous, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K.

Identification & Growing Season

Perilla has many names, including Shiso, Beefsteak Plant, Rattlesnake Weed, Wild Basil, Purple Mint, and more. There are two major varieties of perilla plants- green and red (which is really purple in color), but both are easy to identify.

Perilla grows worldwide, sometimes year around. In the United States, you can find the leaves in the eastern half, excluding Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Out of the varieties, the green perilla is the most common. It has broad leaves (ovate) with toothed edges, and is slightly fuzzy. The topside of the leaf will typically be bright green (especially after rainfall), while the underside will have a greenish-purple hue to it.  Leaves are opposite on the stem of the plant and four-angled. The plant itself can reach about a yard high!

Look for broad perilla leaves with toothed edges…and don’t forget to use your sense of smell!

As mentioned above, perhaps the easiest way for me to identify perilla has to be the aroma after rubbing a leaf between my fingertips.

If you want to find perilla in your area, but have never tasted it before, I highly suggest seeking it out at Korean restaurants or international farmers markets first. That way, when you’re out in the field you’ll have a clear distinction of the smell and taste, which empowers you to find it confidently.

Use the Power of Herbs to Heal...Naturally!

Hey mama! Gain FREE ACCESS to "5 Grocery Store Medicinal Herbs That Can Improve Your Health TODAY", PLUS get updates on vegan herbal remedies and fun announcements when you join the Boho mailing list!

DAMN THE SPAM! Your privacy is important and the email you provide is under lock and key! Powered by ConvertKit

Perilla leaves rinsed and patted dry. You will notice the backside of the leaves (top center) have a slight purple hue to them.

The second type you will see is purple perilla (aka the “red” variety).

Seriously, the only difference seems to be the color- your leaf formation and scent will be identical to the green plant, making it easy to identify if you’re familiar with green perilla. Some believe that the purple perilla has more of a licorice flavor to it, but after finding (and tasting!) both, personally I prefer the green stuff because it’s a bit stronger. However, it’s still a great find!

Most importantly, whether you are looking for green or purple, just make sure you are following legal guidelines in your area when it comes to foraging. No one needs to get shot or arrested because they were hunting on grounds they shouldn’t be on! Be smart.

And if you decide to pick leaves and/or take a couple plants to-go, please make sure you aren’t clearing the area out- remember that the forest is home to many critters, and we need to be respectful of that.

Purple perilla leaves, which (as far as looks go) only differ in color from green perilla.

Of course, my FAVORITE thing to do with perilla leaves is to pickle them. Below I share my take on the classic Korean dish, a MUST have for any perilla forager.

Seriously, when this stuff is in my fridge, it’s hard to walk by without grabbing a bite…or two!

Mmmmmm…perillllllllaaaaaaa…

Delicious Korean Pickled Perilla Recipe

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, sit aside.
  2. Rinse your perilla leaves and pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. In a medium container (preferably one with a lid), line the bottom with 3 perilla leaves.
  4. Pour about 1-2 Tbsp of sauce on top, and then cover with 3 more leaves.
  5. Repeat this process until all the leaves are stacked. Pour any leftover sauce on top.
  6. Pop a lid on top and place in refrigerator. Traditional recipes say to let marinade for one day before eating, but I can’t help myself- I start dipping into it after about an hour lol.

Fantastic all on their own, OR serve on top of plain white rice. Can be stored for one week.

*This is just a suggested amount of perilla leaves- you can use as much or as little that you want, just adjust your sauce accordingly.

Delicious Korean Pickled Perilla Recipe
Serves 5
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 C tamari OR soy sauce
  2. 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  3. 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  4. 1-2 tsp Korean chili flakes OR cayenne pepper
  5. 3 Tbsp green onion, sliced thin
  6. 30+ perilla leaves*
Instructions
  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, sit aside.
  2. Rinse your perilla leaves and pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. In a medium container (preferably one with a lid), line the bottom with 3 perilla leaves.
  4. Pour about 1-2 Tbsp of sauce on top, and then cover with 3 more leaves.
  5. Repeat this process until all the leaves are stacked. Pour any leftover sauce on top.
  6. Pop a lid on top and place in refrigerator. Traditional recipes say to let marinade for one day before eating, but I can't help myself- I start dipping into it after about an hour lol.
Notes
  1. Fantastic all on their own, OR serve on top of plain white rice. Can be stored for one week.
  2. *This is just a suggested amount of perilla leaves- you can use as much or as little that you want, just adjust your sauce accordingly.
Beautifully Bohemian https://www.beautifullybohemian.com/wordpress/

 Thank you for taking the time today for your health and happiness! I hope you find some perilla!

Sources: Specialty Produce & Eat the Weeds

This post was shared on I Am Pinnable and Urban Naturale

Use the Power of Herbs to Heal...Naturally!

Hey mama! Gain FREE ACCESS to "5 Grocery Store Medicinal Herbs That Can Improve Your Health TODAY", PLUS get updates on vegan herbal remedies and fun announcements when you join the Boho mailing list!

DAMN THE SPAM! Your privacy is important and the email you provide is under lock and key! Powered by ConvertKit

You May Also Like

6 comments

Reply

I am not familiar with these leaves. Well, at least I was not until I read your post. I love to learn about this type of thing.

Reply

Hey Elise, if you’re in California, I’m not sure if you will see those out that way:( From what I read, they mainly grow on the east coast, however there’s no harm in looking!!

Reply

I must go hunting some or may grow some in my new “wild Section “

Reply

Sweet! Yes, if you go out foraging and find it, just bring one back home and plant it in your garden!

Reply

Thank you for sharing Backyard Foraging: How to Identify Perilla Leaves plus your delectable pickled perilla recipe at the Healthy Happy Green and Natural Party Blog Hop. I’m pinning and sharing.

Reply

Thank you Deborah!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *