Friday, July 9, 2010

Exploring Your Child To-Be’s Culture – Through Food Of Course

I have been reading about Korean culture and flipping dreamily through Korean cookbooks. My eyes linger over glossy photos of glassine noodles and bright orange carrot, spicy crunchy kimchi, pancakes and vegetables and egg-topped everything. The Koreans have known for a long time what I’ve only learned in the past few years: everything is better when topped with egg!

I have cooked a lot of Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese. I have cooked and eaten a lot of authentic Chinese food. I’ve experimented with loads of Indian dishes and some Cambodian. I have never cooked anything Korean!

There is a large Korean population in Kazakhstan so as a result we had some amazing Korean noodle and salad dishes while we were there for Bek. But that is about my limited experience with Korean food…

So tonight I experimented with Pa Jun, or Korean pancakes. These are not unlike our zucchini fritter or potato pancakes. However they are loaded with green onion (typically) and dipped into a savory but slightly sweet soy sauce, which then makes them very Korean. After reading several different recipes I realized the fillings can vary and was probably a way to use up what you have. Green onions seem to be the only constant.

First make the dipping sauce: 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1.5 tsp sugar, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Set aside.

I started with shredded vegetables of carrot, zucchini and yellow squash. My parents just gave us a boat load of the latter two from their garden and it seemed a good way to use them. I threw all three into the food processor w/ the shredder blade. I chopped one large clove of garlic and sliced 3 green onions. In a large bowl I beat 2 eggs until frothy, added flour, maybe about a cup to a cup and a half. I added about a cup of cold

water. You really

just want a loose-ish batter, thicker than crepe batter but not quite as thick as traditional pancakes. But I think this can also vary depending on preference. Throw in your veggies, maybe a good handful of each, say ¼ to 1/3 cup of each? You could use chopped bits of leftover meat or shrimp or tofu too. Salt & pepper. Mix all until blended, but as with any batter, don’t over-mix. If time allows let the batter rest, if not move on. Heat 1-2 tsp of vegetable oil in a nonstick pan. Use a measuring cup to scoop up the batter, in maybe 1/3 cup increments; drop into hot pan and smooth it around; fry until edges start to brown and set, about 2 minutes. Flip and press down, fry another 2+ minutes.

Fill the pancake with kimchi, the requisite spicy cabbage condiment. Drizzle a good tablespoon of the sauce on the pancake, or dip in w/ each bite! Pick up like a taco. Have napkin handy. Enjoy savory, spicy, slightly eggy goodness!

Next I might try putting the kimchi in the batter, and topping with strips of cooked egg and julienne smoked tofu. I’m thinking chopped shrimp and green onion would be delish too! If you

try them, let me know how they came out!

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