This Korean perilla leaf kimchi is a simple Korean side dish made with marinated perilla leaves in soy sauce & Korean red pepper flakes. Spicy, garlicky & herbaceous!
Korean perilla leaf kimchi is one of my favorite Korean side dishes to eat with steamed rice! It’s also called Kkaennip Kimchi or Kkaennip Jangajji in Korea. It’s made with Korean perilla leaves, which are herbaceous leaves with flavors similar to basil and mint.
This pickled perilla leaf side dish is marinaded in a spicy, garlicky soy sauce with shredded carrots and onions for crunch. Korean red pepper flakes add spice and a gorgeous red hue to this kimchi.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- The perilla leaves give this Korean side dish (banchan) a fresh, herbaceous flavor that’s complemented perfectly with the spicy, savory kimchi sauce.
- It’s ready to eat in under 15 minutes! You can let it sit at room temperature until the perilla leaves soften up but you can also enjoy it fresh!
- It’s a healthy side dish that’s naturally low in fat and calories but full of fiber.
- If you’re a fan of basil and mint, you’ll love this savory twist on herbs. The perilla leaf kimchi is fragrant and aromatic. It’s similar to a marinated herb salad!
Ingredients you’ll need
- Perilla leaves – the star of this recipe. A fragrant, herbaceous leaf that goes perfectly with this kimchi marinade
- Korean red pepper flakes – a must for this recipe. Gives this side dish a wonderful spicy flavor!
- Carrots & onions – adds crunch to this kimchi
- Fish sauce – adds lots of savory umami; substitute with soy sauce for a vegan version
- Sugar – adds a subtle amount of sweetness to balance the spice and salt
Step by step instructions
- Thinly slice the carrots and onions and lay the perilla leaves on top of one another in the same direction.
- Mix the ingredients for the sauce and add the carrots, onions, garlic, and scallions.
- Mix it all together and let it sit for 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften up a bit from the sauce.
- Add a heaping teaspoon full of the kimchi sauce to the perilla leaves. Layer the sauce on every two to three leaves, otherwise it will be too salty.
- Pick up every 2 leaves and evenly spread the sauce to cover the entire surface of the leaf.
- I recommend dividing the leaves and sauce into two portions to make it easier to gauge how much kimchi sauce to apply to each leaf.
- You can serve this immediately as a fresh, herb salad to eat with rice.
- Or if you prefer to wait, you can let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then flip it over to evenly marinate the underside of the leaves. Press the leaves down with a spoon to make sure the kimchi sauce covers all the layers.
Ingredient substitutions & variations
- To make this vegan: replace the fish sauce with an equal amount of soy sauce
- To make this spicier: add some freshly chopped serrano or jalapeno peppers to the sauce
- Add more herbs: garlic chives, leeks, shallots
- Sugar alternative: replace the sugar with an equal amount of honey or agave
Frequently Asked Questions
The perilla leaf is a herbaceous leaf that’s consumed in Korea, Japan, and some parts of Thailand and Vietnam. In Korea and Japan, it’s used in various side dishes and entrees because of their fresh herbal flavor.
The underside of the perilla leaf can be purple or green with thin veins running along the stem to the outer edges.
Korean perilla leaves are slightly different from Japanese shiso leaves. Korean perilla leaves are larger, with smoother edges, and are slightly more stiff so can be marinated, pickled, and used in kimchi. Japanese shiso leaves are thinner, more delicate, and have jagged edges. Both have similar flavors but the shiso leaf has a stronger mint flavor in my opinion.
They have a fresh herbal flavor most similar to mint and basil, with a subtle licorice taste. If you’re a fan of mint and basil, you should really give this a try.
Perilla leave kimchi is eaten with fresh steamed rice. Take a single leaf and lay it flat on top of the rice. Then using chopsticks, pinch the ends of the leaves, wrapping up the rice that it covers.
You can keep this in the fridge in an airtight container and store it for up to 5 days.
You can pick this up in any Korean grocery store in the fresh produce aisle. Most Asian grocery stores have this as well as it’s become increasingly common in the US.
More Korean side dishes:
- Easy Japchae (Korean glass noodles)
- Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad
- Korean Shiitake Mushroom Side Dish
- Korean Potato Side Dish
- Spicy Korean Radish Salad
- Korean Soybean Sprout Side Dish
Korean Perilla Leaf Kimchi
- 30 perilla leaves
- 4 cloves garlic – minced
- ½ cup onions – sliced thinly
- ⅓ cup carrots – thinly sliced or shredded
- 1 stalk scallion – chopped
- 2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
- 2 medium serrano peppers – (optional) finely diced
- 2 Tablespoons chives – (optional) chopped
- Prep all the vegetables and sauce ingredients. Stack the perilla leaves on top of each other with the stems facing the same way.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Then add the garlic, onions, carrots, scallions, and sesame seeds (and if using, the serrano peppers and chives) to the sauce. Mix everything together and let it sit for 5 minutes until the vegetables soften.
- Meanwhile, divide the perilla leaves and the sauce into two equal portions. Starting with the first half, take every two or three leaves and apply a heaping teaspoon of sauce onto the leaves. Be sure to spread it to the edges and coat the entire surface of the leaf.
- Next, repeat the same steps with the second half of the leaves and sauce.
- You can serve this right away or let the perilla leaves marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, flipping halfway in between so that the leaves marinate evenly. Store it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. They will taste even better the next day.
- Dividing the sauce and leaves into two portions makes it easier to gauge how much sauce to spread on the leaves.
- Store in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.