Ggaeneep (깻잎)

Perilla leaves are often mistaken for "sesame leaves" because that's the literal Korean translation of 깻잎. Too bad the two aren't even related. Regardless of the weird naming scheme, I love perilla leaves. They have a really distinct flavor and I find that most people love it or hate it. We grow them in our backyard so I'll pick them and often use them for ssam (the lettuce part of a kalbi lettuce wrap). And once in a while, I'll add a bit of seasoning to them and make pickled perilla leaves because that side dish reminds me of my childhood.

30 to 40 perilla leaves (available in Korean supermarkets, sometimes it depends on the season - definitely in the summer, winter isn't guaranteed)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (gochugaru).
3 drops of sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 scallion, finely chopped
Start by assembling the sauce/pickling liquid. Mix all of the ingredients, except perilla leaves, in a bowl.

Lay a leaf down in the same container you'll serve/store the pickled perilla leaves in. {Yikes, ended that sentence with a preposition; I'm sure I do it all the time but I just found that instance really noticeable}. Then spoon on some of the pickling liquid over the the leaf. Then layer on another leaf and then spoon over some more of the pickling liquid. Continue layering until you've seasoned all of the leaves. And that's it.
Serve immediately OR leave in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days to get a more pickle-y flavor (in which case, the bright green of the leaves will become a more muted army green).
I like to pick up a leaf with my chop sticks, place it on top of my bowl of rice, and then use my chopsticks to wrap the leaf around a bite-ful of rice.


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