Pickled Perilla Leaves: Ultimate Guide to Delicious Kkaennip Jangajji

Imagine diving into the vibrant world of Korean cuisine where each dish is a symphony of flavors. Among these, pickled perilla leaves stand out with their unique, slightly minty taste and a delightful hint of spice. This traditional Korean side dish, known as ‘Kkaennip Jangajji,’ not only enhances meals but also offers a glimpse into the culinary practices that have been passed down through generations.


As you delve into making your own Kkaennip Jangajji, gather these fresh ingredients to capture the authentic flavors of this traditional Korean side dish.

Required Herbs and Spices

  • Fresh perilla leaves: 30 leaves, thoroughly washed and drained
  • Coarse sea salt: 1/2 cup
  • Rice vinegar: 1 cup
  • Soy sauce: 1/2 cup
  • Water: 3 cups
  • Fresh garlic cloves: 3, thinly sliced
  • Fresh ginger: 1 inch piece, peeled and sliced
  • Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru): 1 tablespoon
  • Sesame seeds: 1 tablespoon

Equipment Needed

To make pickled perilla leaves successfully, you need the right tools. This section will outline all the necessary equipment that will help you through the pickling process, ensuring your Kkaennip Jangajji turns out perfect.

Jars with Airtight Lids

Choose glass jars that come with airtight lids to store your pickled perilla leaves. The seals on these jars must be tight to keep air out and maintain the freshness of the leaves. A quart-sized jar usually works well for a standard batch.

Mixing Bowls

You’ll need a couple of mixing bowls for blending the seasoning ingredients and for salting the leaves. Opt for non-reactive bowls, such as those made of glass or stainless steel, to avoid any chemical reaction with the vinegar.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Accurate measurements are crucial in pickling to balance the flavors. Have a set of measuring cups and spoons handy to measure your vinegar, water, sugar, and spices precisely.


A colander is necessary to rinse the perilla leaves and to drain them after salting. Ensure it’s large enough to hold all the leaves without crowding them.


When handling ingredients like Korean red pepper flakes, it’s a good idea to wear gloves to protect your skin from irritation.

Small Saucepan

You’ll need a small saucepan to heat up the pickling brine. This allows the sugar and salt to dissolve properly, integrating them completely into the liquid.

Tongs or Chopsticks

These will help you handle the leaves as you layer them into the jars without tearing them. Tongs or chopsticks are particularly useful when dealing with the hot brine.

Gathering all these tools before you begin will streamline your pickling process, making it efficient and enjoyable. Now that you have your equipment ready, you’re all set to start creating this delicious, traditional Korean dish.

Preparation Steps

Moving on from gathering your essential pickling tools, let’s dive into the preparation of the perilla leaves to ensure they absorb the flavors beautifully.

Cleaning the Perilla Leaves

  1. Begin by selecting fresh perilla leaves. Look for leaves that are vibrant in color without any brown spots or signs of wilting.
  2. Wash the leaves gently under cold running water to remove any dirt or residue. It is crucial to handle them carefully to prevent tearing.
  3. Use a colander to drain the leaves. Shake off any excess water and then spread the leaves out on clean kitchen towels. Gently pat them dry with another towel, ensuring they are completely dry before pickling.
  4. Once dry, stack the leaves neatly on a plate or a clean surface, ready for the brining process.

Brining the Perilla Leaves

  1. In a small saucepan, combine water, vinegar, and sea salt. The quantities used here will vary depending on how many leaves you’re pickling but a general guideline is to use a ratio of 2 cups of water to 1 cup of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sea salt.
  2. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally to ensure the salt dissolves completely.
  3. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let the brine simmer for about 5 minutes. This step is crucial to meld the flavors and create a stable brine.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the brine to cool completely to room temperature before using it to pickle the perilla leaves. This prevents the leaves from cooking and ensures they retain their texture and color.
  5. After cooling, pour the brine gently over the arranged perilla leaves, ensuring each leaf is well coated. Use tongs or chopsticks to adjust the leaves, making sure the brine covers them evenly.

Pickling Process

Now that your perilla leaves are washed, dried, and your brine is cooled, it’s time to layer them together to start the pickling process.

Layering the Leaves and Brine

  1. Begin by selecting a clean, airtight glass jar large enough to hold your batch of perilla leaves without crushing them.
  2. Place a small layer of the cooled brine at the bottom of the jar to set the foundational moisture.
  3. Take a perilla leaf and dip it into the brine, ensuring it is fully coated. Shake off any excess liquid gently to avoid tearing the leaf.
  4. Lay the dipped leaf flat at the bottom of the jar. Repeat this process, dipping each leaf individually and layering them neatly one on top of the other. The idea is to create even layers that will help in uniform pickling.
  5. Continue this process until all leaves are stacked. Pour the remaining brine over the top layer of the leaves, ensuring all are submerged.
  6. Gently tap the jar on your countertop to remove any air bubbles trapped between the leaves.

Storing and Fermenting the Pickled Perilla Leaves

  1. Once all leaves are in the jar with the brine covering them, tightly seal the jar with its lid.
  2. Store the sealed jar in a cool, dark place like a pantry or a cupboard. The ideal storage temperature is between 55°F and 65°F (13°C to 18°C).
  3. Allow the leaves to ferment for at least a week. This waiting period lets the flavors develop and penetrate the leaves, enhancing their taste.
  4. After a week, feel free to open the jar and taste a leaf. If the desired tartness and flavor complexity are present, they are ready to be enjoyed.
  5. Refrigerate after opening to preserve freshness and extend shelf life. The pickled perilla leaves will keep well in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Serving Suggestions

After mastering the art of pickling perilla leaves, you’re now ready to explore the various ways to enjoy this flavorful Korean delicacy. Pickled perilla leaves can be more than just a side dish; they can be transformed into a versatile ingredient that elevates your meals. Here’s how to incorporate them into your daily dishes:

As a Side Dish

Simply serve the pickled perilla leaves alongside any of your favorite Korean meals. They pair wonderfully with a bowl of steaming white rice, adding a burst of flavor with each bite. You can also chop them and add to a salad for a tangy touch.

In Wraps and Rolls

Use a pickled perilla leaf to wrap pieces of grilled meat or fish, adding a layer of rice if desired. This not only adds a unique flavor but also packs in a variety of textures. The tangy leaves enhance the savory tastes of barbecue or grilled items.

With Rice Balls

Mix finely chopped pickled perilla leaves into your rice before forming them into balls. This infuses every bite with the distinct aroma and taste of perilla, complemented by the tang from the pickling process. It’s perfect for a quick snack or a light meal.

In Sandwiches

Add a leaf or two to your sandwich for an unexpected flavor twist. The pickled perilla leaves can replace or complement traditional ingredients like lettuce or cucumber, offering a crispy, zesty addition that piques the palate.

Storage Tips

After enjoying the flavorful journey of making your own Kkaennip Jangajji, it’s crucial to store your pickled perilla leaves properly to maintain their freshness and prevent spoilage. Here are effective ways to store them, ensuring they stay delicious and safe to eat for as long as possible.

Choose the Right Container

Start by selecting an airtight container that is clean and dry. Glass jars are a popular choice as they do not absorb odors and are easy to sterilize. Make sure the jars seal tightly to keep air and contaminants out.

Keep Them Submerged

Ensure that the perilla leaves are fully submerged in the pickling brine. This brine acts as a preservative, so it’s important that all leaves have consistent contact with the liquid to prevent any part of them from drying out or becoming exposed to air, which could lead to spoilage.

Store in a Cool, Dark Place

For the initial fermenting process, store your pickled perilla leaves at room temperature away from direct sunlight for about 1 to 2 weeks, depending on your taste preference. The darkness helps to slow down the fermentation process, while the cool temperature prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria.

Refrigerate for Long-term Storage

Once the leaves have fermented to your liking, transfer them to the refrigerator. This will significantly slow down the fermentation process and preserve the leaves’ texture and flavor. Refrigerated, they can last for several months.

Regularly Check the Seal and Brine

Every few days, check the seal of your container and make sure the leaves are still submerged in the brine. If you notice the brine level has dropped, you can add a saltwater solution to top it off. Make sure the sealing is tight after each check to avoid any air entering the container.


With the right techniques and a bit of patience you can master the art of making Kkaennip Jangajji at home. Remember the importance of using fresh perilla leaves and following the proper pickling steps to ensure the best flavor. By storing your pickled perilla leaves correctly you’ll enjoy their unique taste for months. Whether you’re serving them alongside a main dish or using them to enhance a special recipe their distinctive flavor is sure to impress. So why not give it a try and see how these delightful Korean pickled leaves can add a zesty twist to your meals?

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