Recipe: Kkaenip (깻잎) Hummus
Hummus is one of the world’s most versatile foods. This humble mix of chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and sometimes tahini (sesame seed paste) is beloved and consumed in copious quantities in most Middle Eastern nations including Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Iraq.
Food Republic recommends hummus as a replacement for mayonnaise or Greek yogurt in chicken salad, deviled eggs or even spread on a bagel with lox. However today, I’m going “old school” and simply making dip for skinny-dipping chips.
I found a recipe for basil hummus online a few years ago. Anytime I find a recipe with basil, I challenge myself to replace the basil with 깻잎 kkaenip, often translated as “sesame leaf,” though it’s not related closely to sesame. Kkaenip is the leaf of the 들깨 deulkkae plant, part of the Perilla frutescens species in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Deulkkae is a closer cousin to the Japanese shizo, whose flavor is a bit different from kkaenip and leaves have more pronounced “teeth.”
Kkaenip in Korean cuisine commonly is made into a 김치 kimchi — a general term for pickled vegetables — or wrapped around barbecued meat and related 반찬 banchan (side dishes). For years, I’ve been on the lookout for Koreafornian takes on kkaenip, such as this Kkaenip Pesto recipe from 2009:
Basil tends to have a lighter, floral, herbal aroma and taste, while kkaenip has a bolder vegetative, minty character. Using the latter gives hummus more complex earthiness than basil could.
Getting by with a little help from a new friend
Developing recipes is only one part of a food blogger’s “job.” The other part is photography, which usually takes longer than making the food itself. That’s never more true than when my new lighting assistant decides to supervise my work a little too intently.
Inspired by Basil Hummus by In the Kitchen With Kath
Makes: About 3 cups (easily cut in half)
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2 cups kkaenip/shiso leaves torn to small pieces (about 2 bunches)
- 3 cloves garlic (or more to taste)
- 2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup California or Australian olive oil
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice (or preserved lemon brine)
- 1½–2 teaspoons salt (try less if your canned beans are salty or if you use preserved lemon brine)
- 1–4 tablespoons water to thin the hummus
- Toast pine nuts in nonstick skillet until they turn light-brown and your kitchen starts to smell like them.
- Put all the ingredients into a bowl, and blend until smooth. I used an immersion blender for this.
- Pour the hummus in a serving bowl, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Serve with rice chips or sesame seed crackers.