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.
• Get the recipe: Kkaenip Pesto, from Koreanfornian Cooking
(Image: Emily Ho)