Zisu (perilla)


This is a genus of an annual herb that is a member of the mint family. In mild climates the plant reseeds itself. It is usually 0.6m to 1.8m tall, with leaves similar to that of the stinging nettle, but slightly rounder in shape.

There are both green-leafed and purple-leafed varieties which are generally recognized as separate species by botanists. Its essential oils provide for a strong taste whose intensity might be compared to that of mint or fennel.

It is considered rich in minerals and vitamins, has anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to help preserve and sterilize other foods. Its seeds are ground with chili and tomatoes to make a savory dip/side dish.

Growth characteristics

Perilla is an adaptable plant with little requirement for the soil except for good water draining. It can be planted in sandy soil, sticky soil and ordinary soil, and it can also grow well under other trees.


Perilla is a "warm" herb that can help dispel pathogenic cold, regulate energy flow and relieve the toxins of fish or crabs. It is often cooked with crabs and sea fish. It can also help relieve headache, abdominal distension, vomiting, poor appetite, coughing and cold due to pathogenic cold.

It can also help relieve reactions to pregnancy and help prevent miscarriage when using together with orange peel and sharen (Amomum villosum)

It is suggested that the herb be used together with ageratum for "cold" people or with coptis root for "hot" people.

How to use

Cold dish with dressing. Boil the leaves and mix them with seasoning such as sesame oil, soybean sauce and sault.

Congee. Cook congee with the leaves and add brown sugar to sweeten when it is done.

Drink. Pour boiling water on the leaves and add some sugar to sweeten.

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