This delicious classic comes courtesy of Steve Joo, one of the chefs at Nokni Restaurant (Oakland).
Perilla leaves 16 - 18 palm-sized leaves
Shitake mushroom, small dice 20 g
Garlic, grated 1 medium sized clove
Ginger, grated about half the amount of garlic
Soy sauce 1 t
Sugar ¼ t
Tofu, firm 200 g
Salt ½ t
Lady Hermit chili powder ¼ t
Rice flour 2 T
Egg, beaten with 1 t water 1 whole
This recipe calls for pan-frying perilla jeon that will basically look like little potstickers.
The secret here is that while the rice flour and egg act as a binder for each jeon, it’s the perilla that will crisp up nicely (think of that one time you went to your neighborhood’s fancy Italian place and they fried up basil as a garnish on every other dish) and give a delicious texture to your bite. Eat ‘em while they’re hot.
Wash and pat dry the perilla leaves and set them aside.
Mix and season your small-diced shitake mushrooms with the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sugar. Cook them in a pan with some grapeseed or neutral oil. Once they’re cooked through, transfer to a sensible mixing bowl and allow to cool off a bit.
While your mushrooms are cooling, mash up your tofu in a cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess moisture. Moisture is your enemy.
Add your tofu mash, hermit chili powder, and salt (cut the amount of salt in half if you’re going to use a dipping sauce*) to the mushrooms and mix to make homogenous.
Use about a tablespoon of mix to place in each leaf of perilla.
Fold the leaf in half lengthwise along the center stem and gently flatten out the mixture without letting it come out beyond the edges.
Dust your folded perilla pockets in rice flour, then dredge with your beaten egg and fry over medium-ish heat on both sides until the surface is beautifully golden brown.
*Simple dipping sauce: 3 parts soy sauce, 1 part vinegar, a touch of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, a dash of chili powder and some sliced scallions.