Monday, March 1, 2010

Korean Pancake

I have a savory tooth, not a sweet tooth. I perfer something salty and/or crunchy over something sweet any day. In the interest of trying to find more balance in my diet, I try to go beyond potato chips (which are still one of my favorites)and I look to ethnic snacks for variety.

Of course, I love Asian snacks and in particular I love Japanese rice crackers. But, my nearly constant need for a little protein in the afternoon has led me to some really interesting recipes. I'm still trying to perfect my Takoyaki or Octopus Balls which I first had in Singapore so I can't share that one yet. But one of my standbys that I make on a regular basis is Korean Pancakes. This savory pancake is made with a thin flour batter and incorporates all kinds of meat and vegetables that you may have on hand. My favorite additions are a little beef or pork, some green onions and some red peppers. It is served with a sauce made of soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and red chili paste and garnished with sesame seeds and cilantro. It's a wonderful tea time snack that I encourage you to try.

Korean Pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 pound ground beef, marinated in 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 2 teaspoons rice wine
1 small red pepper diced
3 - 4 green onions sliced
4 - 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil or more if necessary

2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 - 1 teaspoon of chili garlic sauce or chili oil

Sesame seeds and cilantro leaves for garnish

In a bowl, mix together flour water and salt with a whisk until smooth. Put aside. In a small frying pan, saute ground beef until it ljust begins to lose its' pink color, add green onions and red pepper and continute to cook until vegetables are softened. Add to pancake better and stir to incorporate.

In another frying pan, heat 1 Tablespoon of oil until hot. Using 1/4 cup measure, scoop up some of the batter and pour into pan to make a pancake. Cook over medium heat until top starts to dry at the edges and center is almost firm and bottom is browned. Flip over carefully and continue cooking until other side is browned. Put on a plate and continue with an additional pancake adding more oil to the pan if necessary.

This pancake can also be made all at once in a 12 inch skillet, but you have to wait a lot longer for it to cook before turning and turning is a challenge! The best way is to wait until the center is set, loosen the edges of the pancake with a spatula and then put a plate on top. Then turn over onto plate and slide back into frying pan. If you don't mind how it looks, you can also cut the pancake into quarters in the pan and turn each section. Don't be impatient to turn them as they need to be pretty set before being turned or they will be gummy inside. This recipe makes about 8 pancakes or one giant pancake.

Mix sauce ingredients together. Sprinkle pancakes with sesame seeds and cilantro and spoons sauce over them when serving.

Five Element Analysis:
The varied color of the ingredients in Korean Pancakes makes them attractive to the eye and also more balanced in terms of the five elements than most snack foods. Pancakes are considered a somewhat earthy food as they are a type of rustic flatbread and the beef contributes even more earth. The wheat in the batter belongs to the wood element, the red pepper is fiery and so is the little kick of chili in the sauce, the green onions are metallic. The sauce adds additional water element from the salty soy sauce and the toasted sesame oil and the sesame seeds add even a little more water element, whereas the cilantro brings in just a touch more of the wood element. Can you see how balanced this snack is? And, the good news is that it also tastes great!

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