Have you ever made pesto with herbs other than basil? We just whipped up a batch with kkaennip, or Korean perilla leaves, and the result was spectacular. Kkaennip are the Korean variety of perilla leaves, similar to Japanese shiso and Vietnamese tiá tô but larger and more pungent. Often referred to as "sesame leaves," they are actually a member of the mint family and have a deeply herbaceous flavor reminiscent of mint and anise. With a bunch of kkaennip that needed to be used up quickly, we thought of making pesto, searched to see if anyone else had tried this, and came across a recipe from Koreanfornian Cooking.
Other than the use of perilla leaves instead of basil, the recipe was pretty classic – pine nuts, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, whizzed in a food processor (or blender or mortar and pestle). We decided to continue with the Asian theme and tossed the deep green pesto with buckwheat soba noodles instead of Italian-style pasta. Richly earthy and satisfying, it was a resounding hit.
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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