A New Leaf

The little green herb that will singlehandedly catapult your salad beyond the realm (if you’ll forgive the pun) of garden variety bland.

Photograph by Scott Goodwin

Photograph by Scott Goodwin

Sushi lovers already know the spiky little green that is perilla; it’s the purple herb used to make — and impart that distinctive hue to — pickled ginger. But it’s also a dynamic foodstuff on its own, especially when used as a microgreen (or more accurately, a living microcondiment). Originally cultivated in Asia, perilla has been stateside for decades but only recently found its way into New American restaurants. Chef Michael Scelfo of Russell House Tavern, who sources his from Koppert Cress farm in upstate New York, trims a few leaves onto pork loin; with hints of mint, cinnamon, and basil, the herb’s flavor bolsters the meat’s cinnamon-and-clove-spiced cure. At home, meanwhile, it’ll catapult your everyday salad to something far above garden variety.

Russell House Tavern, 14 JFK St., Cambridge, 617-500-3055, russellhousecambridge.com.