Something fishy about perilla oil


Having a distinct nutty aroma and taste, the oil pressed from the toasted perilla seeds is used as a flavor enhancer, condiment, and cooking oil in Korean cuisine . . .

My impression was that it tasted more like salmon oil than nutty (like sesame). I got a sealed bottle, which lists 100% perilla as the ingredient, and has a picture of the seeds on the label. Is it really supposed to taste nutty? I think it smells kind of fishy too.



I guess the following info explains that this may be typical, but not ideal.

The flavor of this oil is surprising, in effect rather like fish sauce without the salt. This may be because of the large amount of Omega 3, similar to the high Omega 3 content of fish oil . . .

You will know if your perilla seed oil has gone bad if it has darkened in color or has a strange smell or taste . . .

The study was focused on processing of ubi cup cake fortified with omega-3.
The ubi cup cake fortified with omega-3 possessed a slightly pronounced fish odor and fish flavor . . .

In the early developing stage of Designer Egg, an off-flavor (fish-taint) from eggs enriched with omega-3 PUFAs was experienced. It was suspect that the fish flavor generation could be the result of rancidity of omega-3 fatty acids either in feeds and/or animal products . . .

Flaxseed oil smells “fishy” for the exact same reason that fish produces such a smell. In both cases the culprit is the chemical breakdown of a group of compounds called omega-3 fatty acids. This result is rather unfortunate since it is exactly these fatty acids that seem to give rise to the health benefits associated with these oils. However as anyone who has taken such supplements knows, over time these oils also have a tendency to become rancid. On a chemical level what is going on is that the acids become oxidized, creating byproducts that produce the tell-tale fishy smell . . .

It must be hard to tell if fish oil is rancid then . . .
It sounds like people usually go with the rancid fish oil and think that’s normal (scientists included) . . .

For me it’s beginner’s luck I guess (since the perilla oil was on sale), and maybe this will save me the trouble of buying a case, only to find out later on that all of the bottles went rancid. Well I don’t plan on buying any more omega-3 oils now, but would continue to do so on an individual basis, instead of in bulk for sure.



Looking at it closer here, color would be the clue for perilla oil it appears. What I got was like amber polarized sunglasses, when it should have looked lighter yellow, like corn oil. So I should be able to tell without smelling the next one, if I can exchange that. Supposedly it has a 1-2 year shelf life, so I don’t know what’s going on there.



As I read your first post, the first thing that came to mind was wondering if it had become rancid. Was there a use-by date on the bottle that smelled “fishy”? When I buy oil, I try to avoid undated bottles (when possible) and look for a date as far in the future as possible (and unless I need it desperately for immediate use, I usually won’t buy it at all if that date is less than a year ahead).

And that’s especially true of many specialty oils that tend not have a very long shelf life, labeled dates and things you read on the Internet nothwithstanding. I also try to pull a bottle from as far back on the shelf as possible, to get one that hasn’t been continously exposed to light for who-knows-how-long. And for oils like perilla oil, that are pretty specific to one culture, I try to buy them only at stores that cater to customers from that background (in this case, Korean grocery stores that get a lot of business in general). And then to top it all off, unless I know I’ll use it up quickly once I get it home, I store it in the fridge even before I open it for the first time.

(And fwiw, though I don’t take them myself so I have no personal experience with it, I’ve often seen it recommended that fish oil capsules be kept in the fridge, too…)



Somehow it seems like they only import rancid perilla oil. Looking around again, every bottle on the shelf in more than one store was dark, and the glass was not tinted. One had tinted glass though, so I tried to smell it through the cap, and it seemed a little fishy too. I give up on that stuff. I’ve read that some other oils have those fats, but to a lesser extent. That’s fine, as long as they aren’t fishy as a result (which means that whatever benefit the so-called good fat had is now the opposite), regardless of whether they taste especially good. It just seems a little strange in this case, as if that was the acquired taste for this culture (except that sesame oil is obviously more popular, and it’s no wonder).


(Joon) #6

If you’re talking about the Korean perilla oil (deul-girum) it should be toasted and taste similar to toasted sesame oil. Most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two. It should be dark, like sesame oil also.

Here’s a picture of both for comparison.참기름과/dp/B071CYQKMH



Oh, I thought it went dark from too many shatty acids, whatever (I’m not getting another oil with so many of those).


(Joon) #8

By the way, you might have gotten rancid oil. I’ve been told perilla oil can go rancid faster than other oils and that it should be kept in the fridge.

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