kkaenipFresh green perilla leaves are popular in Korean cuisine. Their flavor is somewhere between that of basil and mint. We use them whole in ssam wraps and barbecue, or shredded to add a bit of minty flavor to many other dishes. We also pickle them and make perilla kimchi with them.

Perilla leaves are often translated from Korean as “sesame leaves,” which is technically a correct translation although they aren’t related to the sesame plant. They look a little similar to Japanese shiso leaves but taste very different and are larger, flatter, have a less serrated edge, and are sometimes purple on the underside. They are a member of the mint family.

Perilla leaves

When shopping, choose perilla with bright, fresh-looking leaves that are free of blemishes and aren’t at all wilted. The stems should also be green; if they’re brown, that means they’re old. Perilla leaves don’t keep for very long in the refrigerator, so to preserve them as best you can, wrap them in a paper towel and then put them in a plastic bag before refrigerating. They should be eaten within a couple of days.

If you can’t find them in the store, you can try to grow them yourself. Many of my readers are growing their own and I do too! They are self-seeding, and once planted, will grow every year. Their season is at its peak from May to July, but leaves from plants raised in greenhouses are available year-round.

perilla leaves

Recipes that use perilla leaves (kkaennip):


  1. Tinnitin49 Moscow,Russia joined 11/11 & has 1 comment


    See I’m Thai, who loves Korean food. I would like to know that Perilla leaves are similar to holy basil leaves? I would like to cook Gamjatang,but these leaves stop me. So kindly answer please…

    Thank you

  2. sirdanilot Terneuzen, The Netherlands joined 10/09 & has 25 comments


    I am growing perilla leaves in my garden and they are doing well. It’s just that especially the larger leaves can sometimes have a very slight bitter taste, and they are also a bit hard to chew sometimes… is that normal? I just turned them into kimchi and jangaji and I hope they will get a bit softer.

    perhaps I just did a bad job growing them… the insects are also eating them :(

  3. mauserati joined 6/10 & has 3 comments

    Hi Maangchi – came here after seeing your maejakgwa viddi on youtube; excellent site. have two questions:
    since you specify “Korean Perilla”, is it different than “regular” perilla? or “purple perilla” a.k.a. shiso? I’m Jap-Am, and my mother grew shiso in a pot outside the kitchen door. The flower stalks are +GREAT+ as tempura; a very fond childhood memory because only my mother and I liked it so it was our special “cook’s treat” while she fried all the other goodies for dinner.

    also, any sources for the terrific plastic ginger grater you have? all the ones I’ve seen are either mediocre stoneware or expensive porcelain. wish I had the glazed metal one that my mother used. lol, it was so old, it was marked “Made in Occupied Japan”.

    thanks for any help you can provide. have fun, Jenna

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      yes, Korean perilla leaves and Japanese shiso are different. They look similar but the flavors are different. Whenever I go to a Japanese restaurant, I see they serve shiso as garnish but I always eat it because I enjoy the flavor very much. Purple perilla? I don’t remember if I had it or not. : )

      The ginger grater in the video? I bought it either at a Korean store or Japanese store. I don’t remember. Very cheap under $5.00 I guess.

      “..a very fond childhood memory because only my mother and I liked it so it was our special “cook’s treat” I can imagine your mom and you cooking together in the kitchen. nice!

  4. Reinier Rotterdam, The Netherlands joined 2/09

    These are so difficult to find fresh! Fortunately i found canned ones in my grocery store, ready made spicy or with soy sauce. Very convenient and tastes good too, however it cannot compete with home made.

    • Sylvia joined 9/08 & has 78 comments

      I grew perilla and it was easy.
      I mixed cow manure and peat with my topsoil and scattered the seeds. They are an annual herb. Think basil, not mint. I harvested leaves all summer and in the late fall I got tiny flowers and it seeded. I assume I will have the plants popping up all over this coming spring. This plant would also be well suited to a container. Three or four plants would give you fresh leaves all summer. If you are going to make kim-chi then I would recommend a couple more plants.
      Reinier, I think you saw the pictures of my plants.
      I got the seeds online. Korean food fans would have fun growing these.
      Soon I will dreaming of spring and my garden.

  5. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments


    The canned sesame leaves that you found is “kkaen nip jang ah jji”. You can open it and eat it with rice. : )

  6. Hi, I’m really enjoying your website.

    I live in New Zealand and can only find canned sesame leaves. Would those be suitable for kkaen nip jang ah jji or must they be fresh only.

    If so, how are the canned sesame leaves used?

    • You can get the seeds for perrila leaves fairly easily, and grow them in your garden. I grew them in Toronto when I lived there, in a very small patch of garden. they took off like weeds. We couldn’t use them all, so ended up giving them away. Give it a try… you have nothing to lose.

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