Purple Perilla: Health Benefits & Culinary Uses

Purple Perilla_ Health Benefits & Culinary Uses
Purple perilla is an annual herb with a distinctive aroma and taste that has been grown in Asia for centuries. Purple perilla is the purple-leafed variety of the more familiar green perilla, known in Japanese as shiso. Its purple leaves and essential oil are often used to flavor soups, stews, and roasts.

Purple perilla plant profile

Scientific namePerilla frutescens var. crispa 
FamilyLamiaceae (the mint or deadnettle or sage family)
Plant typeHerb

Common names include:

  • purple shiso
  • shiso
  • beefsteak plant
  • Chinese basil
  • Perilla mint
  • purple mint
  • shiso perilla
  • crispa
  • deulkkae
  • perilla

Perilla plants grow to a height of 3 feet. They have a strong mint-like aroma, with the leaves and seeds being the useful parts of the plant.

Perilla leaves are oval in shape and have pointed ends. Furthermore, the leaves are generally purple or green with light flecks of purple on the underside.

Perilla frutescens var crispa, purple perilla
Perilla frutescens var. crispa, purple perilla

What is the difference between shiso and perilla?

The shiso plant belongs to the mint family and is a variety of Perilla frutescens, commonly referred to as perilla. The botanical name of this plant is Perilla frutescens var. crispa and is considered different from the Korean perilla leaves. They look similar but taste different.

The term perilla describes several different species of plants in the mint family. In contrast to the broad, rounded perilla leaves that the Koreans prefer, the Japanese use the smaller and more delicate shiso leaves. Its flavor, herbaceous and sweet with hints of aniseed or licorice, is a pleasant herb.

The main difference between shiso and perilla is that shiso is one of the many varieties of herbs related to basil and mint, and it is used in Japanese cooking, while perilla is the shiso plant. 

It should be noted that green shiso differs slightly from purple shiso, but the two can be used interchangeably.

What is purple perilla used for?

Medicine is made from this plant’s seeds, stems, and leaves.

Perilla is used for many reasons, including: 

  • canker sores
  • airway illnesses
  • stomach issues

Perilla seeds and essential oils have been widely used in traditional nutritional and medicinal preparations. 

According to a biological analysis of perilla seeds, they possess various properties, including:

  • anticancer
  • antidiabetic
  • antiasthma
  • antimicrobial
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • cardioprotective properties

Perilla and weight loss

When it comes to diet and weight management, the perilla plant has several properties that can help you lose weight while maintaining a healthy body. As a result of its high level of omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C, and important phytonutrients, it is an excellent weight loss aid.

Nutrients present in perilla that help with weight loss:

  • Luteolin
  • Alpha-linolenic acid
  • Epigallocatechin gallate
  • Dietary fiber
  • Low carbohydrate content
  • High omega-3 content
  • High omega-6 content
  • Vitamin C

Can you eat purple perilla?

Yes, you can eat any part of the plant. There is a fresh, citrusy flavor associated with shiso and hints of cinnamon, cloves, and mint.

Asian cooks widely use this herb as a garnish and an antidote to food poisoning. The perilla leaves are used in Japan as a garnish on raw fish dishes.

Aside from enhancing the taste of the dish, it is also beneficial in preventing the possibility of poisoning due to the rawness of the fish.

Compared with chia and flax seeds, perilla seeds were found to have higher antioxidants. In addition, perilla leaves contain a high amount of fiber and minerals.

The leaves of the perilla plant are also a rich source of carotenoids; the entire plant is beneficial and nutritious because it contains fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Is it poisonous in any way?

Although perilla is an edible plant for humans and is safe for human consumption, it is toxic to cattle, other ruminants, dogs, and horses

Avoid consuming this plant if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Can you grow purple perilla at home?

Perilla would be an excellent addition to a medicinal or culinary herb garden. It is an annual plant that thrives in all planting zones. 

If planted outdoors after all danger of frost has passed, it will grow in full sun to partial sun. For this herb to flourish, it requires well-draining soil and warm temperatures.

Providing these elements to purple perilla will ensure its success.

Purple perilla leaves: culinary uses

In addition to serving as a divider or an edible garnish, shiso leaves are also commonly used as an ingredient in sushi. If you wrap a whole leaf around a piece of sashimi and dip it in soy sauce, you can enjoy the herb with fatty fish, such as salmon, yellowtail, and tuna.

Traditionally, purple perilla leaves are used to wrap maki, a popular Japanese snack made by wrapping the leaves around sweetened miso paste, eggplants, and roasted crushed walnuts, then skewering and frying until crispy.

Purple perilla is also an excellent complement to vegetables and fruits. Julienned shiso leaves are often added to salads for a fresh, citrusy flavor.

Shiso leaves can be made into tempura by dipping them in a light batter and frying them until crispy and puffy. Vietnamese summer rolls often contain this ingredient. 

It is also used in desserts and drinks, such as granita, mojito cocktails, and simple syrup. Like dried nori, it can be dried, ground, and used as a seasoning or sprinkled on rice, omelets, and soups.

Use perilla leaves as a substitute for mint in any dish that calls for it, especially in Asian cuisine.


Ana has always been interested in all things nature and flora. With her expertise in home gardening and interest in foraging, she has been spending her weekends and free time looking for edible native plants, flowers, and fungi. One of her many hobbies includes testing new savory and sweet recipes, juices or teas made from freshly picked plants, wild fruits, or mushrooms.

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