Spaghetti alla Pesto with Asian Twist Recipe

One of my family’s favorite Pesto that I created is made with perilla leaves and almonds. As I can’t quite find high quality basil leaves in neighbor markets, and I failed to raise them in a pot that I tried completely indoor concerning the bad air quality here in Korea.

Ever since we moved here, I’ve walked around and sniffed around all the leaves in markets. Then I found the perilla. It got the distinctive fragrance, very tangy and slightly bitter, so I decided to match with almonds.

​We love perilla pesto so much now. Because perilla is a very much domestic plant in Korea, we can also find organic raised easily, which is plus. We like it as it is, but today’s pasta is with Japanese twist.  ​If you are like me making a big batch and stocking sauces in your freezer, this Japanese twist Spaghetti alla Pesto is really easy to prepare. Same pesto yet flavor changes very much.  Try it, you may ended up eating two portions by yourself!

Spaghetti alla Pesto Asian Twist


Perilla Almond Pest

  • 60 Leaves of Perilla
  • 1/2 Cup of Almonds
  • 1 1/2~2 Cups of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 5~6 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Freezer Safe Small Containers to store

Pasta for 2

  • 1 Tablespon of Organic Japanese Style Soy Sauce
  • A Handful of Katsuobushi (Japanese Shredded Died Bonito)
  • A Splash of Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice


  1. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil and set in oven at least 180C°. This doesn’t require pre-heating oven, just to make garlic to be roasted till softened.
  2. Wash all perilla leaves with filtered water, dry and set them on the side.
  3. Place perilla leaves, almonds, roasted garlic, lemon juice, 1 cup of evoo, and sea salt in blender.
  4. As all ingredients start blended, slowly add rest of evoo till pesto gets desired smoothness. Perilla leaves are dryer than basil leaves, it require more evoo.  Also, it gets dryer as stored in freezer and refrigerator, try to make little looser side. 
  5. Taste and adjust sodium level as you wish.
  6. Separate the amount you are using for pasta on the side, divide pesto in small containers to store.
  7. Boil water
  8. While boiling water, slice grape tomatoes in half.
  9. Boil spaghetti. Not necessary to add salt as many people do.  I think it’s too much sodium for pasta with thick sauce.  I would add a little for simpler side of pasta dish like white wine and evoo.
  10. In a skillet in a low to medium heat, place grape tomatos and pesto.  Add pasta, soy sauce, then toss quickly.
  11. Place spaghetti on plate, splash lemon juice as you wish, top with Katsuobushi.

Published by kiwami

Sustainable Lifestyle Specialist /Interior Designer (U.S. certified) /Author of Picture Books