i grew up confusing perilla with sesame, as koreans seem to marry the two when translating korean culinary terms into english. for a long time i thought that those delicious nutty sesame seeds and their amazingly fragrant oil were related to ggaennip, or what i was taught to refer to in english as "sesame leaves." but no no no, they're not related. the seeds called tulggae, or "wild sesame" are in fact perilla seeds, not sesame seeds, wild or not. accordingly, ggaenip have nothing to do with sesame, either.
so what is perilla? well i'm used to eating it as a raw wrapping for korean grilled meats, or preserved in soy and chiles, or soybean paste. but apparently the more well known japanese shiso leaf is a perilla leaf, as well. the two taste completely different to me, and even the look and texture of the leaves differ, as well. japanese shiso seems smaller, thinner, more serrated around the edges, with a sweeter, sharper flavor. actually it's flavor is really difficult for me to describe. the korean perilla seems deeper, less intense, with large, slightly fuzzy leaves. these are green on the top, and slightly purple on the bottom.
and then i hear that perilla is a common herb in vietnam, too.
does anyone have any light to shed on this herb? the korean and japanese versions are really tasty, if completely different, and it shouldn't go on living under a false sesame identity. is it commonly eaten in other asian countries? outside of asia?