Perilla frutescens, commonly called perilla or Korean perilla, is a species of Perilla in the mint family Lamiaceae. It is an annual plant native to Southeast Asia and Indian highlands, and is traditionally grown in the Korean peninsula, Southern China, Japan and India as a crop. An edible plant, perilla is a very attractive plant for the garden and attracts butterflies. It is an aromatic plant with a strong minty smell. Various perilla varieties are traditionally used by local people, the leaves are used as a vegetable and the seeds supply nutritious cooking oil. A variety of this plant, P. frutescens var. crispa or “shiso”, is widely grown and is one of the most popular garnishes in Japan, used as an antidote for fish and crab meat allergy or as a food colorant. In the United States, perilla is a weed pest, toxic to cattle after ingestion.

In Korean cuisine, kkaennip or perilla leaves are widely used as a herb and a vegetable. Kkaennip can be used fresh as a ssam vegetable, fresh or blanched as a namul vegetable, or pickled in soy sauce or soybean paste to make jangajji (pickle) or kimchi.

Deulkkae, the perilla seeds, are either toasted and grounded into powder called deulkkae-garu or toasted and pressed to make perilla oil. Toasted deulkkae powder is used as a spice and a condiment for guk (soup), namul (seasoned vegetable dishes), guksu (noodle dishes), kimchi, and eomuk (fishcake). It is also used as gomul (coating or topping) for desserts: Yeot and several tteok (rice cake) varieties can be coated with toasted perilla powder. Perilla oil made from toasted perilla seeds is used as a cooking oil and as a condiment.

In Korean-style western food, perilla leaves are sometimes used to substitute basil, and the seed powder and oil is used in salad dressings as well as in dipping sauces. A Michelin-starred restaurant in Seoul serves nutty vanilla ice cream whose secret ingredient is perilla oil.

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