Why Perilla Oil Is The Secret Ingredient You Need In Your Pantry

Aromatically rich and pressed from a leaf that related in the mint family (you might know it as you might know as Chinese basil), perilla oil may be the secret weapon you've been searching for to add to your cooking oil reserves (via Bloomberg and Bonappetit). It's got a taste profile you've been longing after all your life with the same fervor as European explorers desperate to find the fountain of youth. Think sesame oil with nutty and earthy taste profiles and whispers of anise.  

"It isn't possible," you protest. We promise you it is. But wait, there's a cherry on the top. The honey-colored, velvety smooth oil is not only delicious, but it's also good for you. It's loaded with omega-6 and omega-9 and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect against cardiovascular disorders, cancer, and inflammatory, rheumatoid arthritis (via Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine).

Buy yourself some toasted perilla oil if you're looking for bolder, stronger flavors. For a more refined, toasted taste, go for infrared-roasted oils. And finally, for more subtle flavors product, opt for the untoasted variety.

How to use Perilla oil

David Joo, writing for Bonapetit, remembers a childhood dilled with Korean dishes, infused with perilla oil. Think kimchi pancakes, stir-fried fish cakes, and spicy braised tofu. In heaven? We are, too. Perilla oil is most definitely a staple of Korean cuisine. But that doesn't mean you have to use it to cook solely Korean dishes. 

The oil will work particularly well on light foods, like raw or cooked seafood and fresh vegetables. That said, you can use it for just about anything.  Junghyun Park, the chef and owner of a two-Michelin-starred restaurant in New York, suggested to Bloomberg that perilla oil is a "great alternative to standard butter or olive oil." Don't take our word for it – invest in a bottle, and check it out yourself. Use it to saute mushrooms, or give an extra, nutty bang to your batch of freshly-made pesto. Mix it into soups, vinaigrettes, or marinate your fish in it. Alternatively, do what Jennifer Yoo, co-founder of the Asian ingredient supplier, Gotham Grove, does: Use perilla oil to accent your avocado toast

Whatever you choose to use it for, know that perilla oil has a relatively short shelf-life. Bloomberg suggests you store it in the refrigerator and use it within six months of opening. Hungry Onion forum participants suggest that you'll know if your oil has gone rancid if it darkens in color or begins to smell or taste funny.