Had dinner with some family friends at a Korean restaurant recently. We had samgyupsal, kimchi stew, bibimbap and a dozen side dishes that came with the meal.

Back at home, I knew I had some pork belly in the freezer (ironically, I bought at a Japanese grocery!), so I decided that a light Korean meal was in order.

To make this yourself, you'll need:
pork belly, thinly sliced, cut into 2 inch pieces (it's actually bacon!)
perilla or shisho leaves- Available at korean shops or sometimes at Rustan's
sesame oil
salt and pepper

This is super simple! Season the pork with salt and pepper. Fry in sesame oil. Fry some garlic cloves, too.

On a plate, place the perilla leaves and kimchi. Place a small dish with sesame oil, salt and pepper. This meal is actually great with rice, but I was too lazy to go down to the store to buy a cup so I just had this "light" meal.

To eat this, you just need to get the perilla leaves, place kimchi, garlic (and rice!) on top, dip the pork in the sesame sauce then place it on top and wrap everything together and shove everything into your mouth. As you can imagine, this is a very messy dish! But there's no other way to eat it but with your hands, which is always great in my book.

It was my first time to taste perilla leaves at the Korean resto. I've seen it in Korean groceries before but never asked what they were for. When we had samgyupsal or chicken at my mom's house, we'd use lettuce leaves instead. The krinkly, green and purple kind which could be bought for the surprisingly cheap price of P30 a bag at Asshi Mart at Kalayaan Ave. Makati, the Korean store we've been frequenting since I was a kid.

Luckily, after the dinner at the resto, I found some perilla leaves at Rustan's in Greenbelt 1. The leaves taste a bit peppery, and somewhat reminds me of mint as well. Research says that it's a relative of the nettle plant, something I haven't tried and have only heard about from one of my fave food shows River Cottage with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Apparently, perilla is also called the beefsteak plant, and also known as Japanese basil, purple mint, and Korean sesame leaf. It's tasty and strongly flavored, and I'm glad to say that I've added  to my New Year's resolution of eating new vegetables.  Well, it is an herb and not a veggie, but it's green and leafy, so that's good enough for me!

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