Thursday, 19 February 2015

Korean-style Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday

When veggie daughter was just 4 months old we upped and moved from the UK to live in Seoul, Korea for five years. As a result the whole family developed a strong taste for the delights of Korean cuisine. Now, eleven years after leaving Korea this still often manifests itself as an irresistible craving for some kimchi, or maybe a bowl of soft tofu stew or bibimbap.... Sadly, Korean restaurants are few and far between where we now live, although we did just discover a new bibimbap restaurant in Cambridge last weekend. 

Anyway, on pancake day this week, veggie daughter decided she would like to try making one of our old favourites, pajeon, or Korean pancake, with spring onion. We found a couple of recipes, one of which called for mung bean flour, not something we tend to have in our larder. It also called for a spoonful of toenjang, or fermented soybean paste, which we did happen to have.  The recipe that veggie daughter found here on the Maangchi Korean food website didn't have any eggs, which I found strange as the pajeon we consumed in various Korean restaurants in the past have always tasted decidedly eggy. The Maangchi lady had even picked her own green onions from Central Park in New York! That option not being open to us, we bought a bunch of spring onions from Morrisons. Veggie daughter was determined to try the no egg recipe and I was determined to chuck in an egg or two. So we made both. Then the two of us called in cheffy son to help us decide on a winner.

Maangchi's recipe was half a cup of flour, half a cup of water, a teaspoon of toenjang, half a teaspoon of sugar mixed into a batter, poured over the sliced onions in a frying pan and fried until golden. That was where we started. We used half plain flour and half gram flour (besan, or chick pea flour).

Here's the batter and the sliced onion.

Here's veggie daughter's pancake - not bad at all! Nice and crispy, and very tasty, but cheffy son and I definitely felt it lacked the egg. The consistency was quite dense. So I took the remains of the batter, tossed in a beaten egg, a splash more milk and a bit more flour. In my usual style I didn't measure. but I wish I had, because the resulting pancake was pretty good. I tried a third pancake, throwing in yet another egg, some more milk and flour, and a squeeze of Korean kochujang, or hot chili paste. That one was not so good - the texture was heavier and more like a Canadian breakfast pancake. So it will be back to trial and error to try to emulate the second pancake. We served them with a dip made from soy sauce mixed with some rice vinegar, but veggie daughter preferred just plain soy sauce.

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