Haemul Pajeon 해물파전 (seafood pancake)

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My attempt at making Haemul Pajeon 해물파전!

I love this Korean pancake made with green onions (pa) and seafood (haemul) and often order it in Korean restaurants. It always appears on the table perfectly golden and crispy but recreating this at home proved to be a bit tricky….

There are lots of amazing Korean food bloggers that I look at for recipes but unfortunately for this dish I found quite a bit of variations in the recipe/method, especially in which flour is used for the batter and how the ingredients are mixed/the order in which they are used.

Maangchi, often my first go-to-source, has a pajeon recipe with the shortest ingredients list. Seafood only gets mentioned halfway as an optional addition and her batter is quite plain although she does use soybean paste (and sugar) for flavouring.  There is no addition of egg and she uses plain flour whilst others seem to recommend cake flour, rice flour or a ready made Korean pancake mix.

If I understand Hyosun from Korean Bapsang correctly, Korean pancake mix can be easily made by mixing flour with rice flour/corn starch and some flavouring like garlic and ginger.  Nami from JustoneCookbook  uses cake flour which seems to be a mix of flour with corn starch .  The ladies from CrazyKoreancooking use the ready mix or plain flour  and JinJoo from Kimchimari uses a mix from plain flour with different rice flours. She also uses anchovy stock to flavour the batter and is the only one who adds seasoned minced beef to this dish (and minari).

The reason for all these variations in flour seems to be to ensure a crispy result. Apparently the gluten in normal flour can give a doughy result which makes sense I guess thinking of French crepes and English pancakes.

Aside from the flour, the other big difference is how the ingredients are mixed/ in which order they are being used.

After mixing the batter, some recipes add the seafood to the batter itself whilst other add it later. Some mix the egg into the batter as well, others add it almost to the end. The green onions go into the pan first, or on top of the batter. (It is even mentioned that you could also mix all the ingredients together instead of layering it separately).

The main ingredients all seem to be the same though, a batter (preferable to contain some rice/cornstarch), green onions, seafood, water, oil and an egg. Optional flavourings are chilies, ginger, garlic and salt.

It’s worth exploring all these different recipes and see what works out best, but as I only had limited time (and ingredients), I went ahead and used Maangchi’s and Kimchimari’s recipe as my main inspiration.

I don’t have any precise quantities but this is what I used:

  • The batter: I mixed equal amounts of glutenfree flour with water. To this I added a tablespoon of cornstarch plus an egg and mixed well until a smooth and fairly thin batter.  I also added a pinch of dried ginger, garlic and salt to it. (The amount of batter shown in the photo is way too much, I only used about a third of it).
  • Green onions: cleaned and cut to size to fit into a frying pan. I also halved them lengthwise.
  • Seafood: I use a mix of (defrosted frozen) seafood which I chopped up roughly as I prefer smaller pieces in my pancake.
  • The dish on the left has the dipping sauce, prepare this before you start frying your pancake as you want to eat the pancake as soon as possible whilst still hot & crispy! I make mine from equal quantities soy sauce, vinegar and water, a little bit of sugar and some finely chopped green onion. I also like to add a drop of sesame oil.

How did I make it?

  • Heat up some vegetable oil in a frying pan (medium to high heat) and add the green onions. Press down so that it has maximum contact with the bottom of the pan
  • Add the seafood on top of the onions, dividing it evenly
  • Poor the batter over this, make sure any holes are filled but don’t cover the onions/seafood completely. A thick batter will take longer to cook, making it tough and doughy.
  • Continue to fry, lower heat if needed, until the batter seems almost cooked on top. Turn over carefully  and fry the other side for a further 2-3 minutes until fully cooked.
  • Serve with dipping sauce!

Mine was delicious but not crispy enough so I guess I will have to experiment a bit more and make this again 😛

 

Have you made this at home? Any tips on how to get it extra crispy? Looking forward to hear from you in the comments 🙂

I now also share more (food) photos on Instagram

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Banchan – Korean side dishes (part 1 of 2)

Last week fellow blogger “myeverydayeats” asked me about my favourite Banchan, after I had commented on some that she had bought and blogged about. Her question inspired me to dedicate a blog post about these amazing range of side dishes, and to show you some of my favourite ones.

(This will a very long post, so I will split it in two and post about what I actually bought in a second blog post).

Banchan, or aka Korean side dishes, are an essential part of a Korean meal. They are not just snacks or side dishes, but often can be the meal, together with rice and soup.  Banchan is so important that restaurants are judged by the quality of their banchan—and how often they get refilled. (Unfortunately, here in the UK most restaurants will charge for banchan but luckily, I live close to New Malden where the Korean restaurants will always give you some for free)

Banchan are set in the middle of the table to be shared, and are always served in odd numbers, because even numbers are considered bad luck. Usually, the more formal the meals are, the more banchan there will be.

Korean families typically cook up large batches of these sides to be eaten over the course of the week. Depending on the cooking technique, they can last between 1-2 days (like some of the namul) up to months (most pickles and kimchi). There are endless variations of banchan, but the most common ones served are:

  • Kimchi: fermented vegetables (cabbage, cucumber, radish).
  • Namul: steamed, marinated or stir-fried vegetables usually seasoned with sesame oil, salt, vinegar, minced garlic, chopped green onions, dried chili peppers, and soy sauce.
  • Bokkeum: stif-fried food
  • Jjim: steamed food
  • Jjorim: food simmered in flavoured broth
  • jjeon: variety of pan-fried or pancake food
  • Ganmul: pickled food
  • Salad: this can be anything from simply some iceberg lettuce to korean potato salad
  • Gyeran mari: rolled omelet
  • Gim: seaweed

When I was at the supermarket yesterday (I went to both H mart and Korea Foods), I grabbed some of my favourites but I also made a few photos to show you the huge variety of food available.  Aside from banchan, the supermarkets also sells ready made food that is a meal on itself, like japchae and fried chicken. When I’m lazy or very busy, I often buy some of this and pack that for my lunch, like the supermarket lunch I wrote about in this post.

Loads of different banchan:

Loads of ready made food:

Bibigo had a food stall to promote their new mandu: 맛있어!!

And just to show you the sheer size of ramen options! So many to choose from… 😛

I will write in my next blog post more about the banchan I bought, so keep tuned! Or if you have any questions about the food seen in these photos, please let me know in the comments.

Happy Valentine!

Valentine bento

I know! It has been some time since my last post but I thought today would be a great date to restart blogging again.

Today is actually 3 years ago that I started this blog, and a lot has changed. I can remember how totally obsessed I was with making bento during the first months, I bought loads and loads of bento stuff and spent so much time creating them. Since then my focus has shifted, I discovered cake decorating and a lot of my free time was taken up with that instead of making dosirak/bento. So sometimes I blogged about my cakes instead. Or took some time of blogging because I felt uninspired, my lunches were boring or life got in the way.

Anyway, 3 years later, I’m still there and although I don’t want to make any promises about how often I will blog or how active I will be be, but it’s good to be back again. I would also like to thank again all my readers, followers and people who comment. It always surprises me that even when I don’t have anything new to show, my blog is still being seen and liked.

So this Valentine Day inspired dosirakbento today is to show my love for all of of you! 🙂

In the box at the back, there is some pink sushi rice, which I tried to shape in a heart but not totally successful…, with heart shaped vegetables. The box in the front has some Korean meatballs, and more of the pink rice and heart shaped veggies. And I love how the beet slices are bleeding a bit onto the radish, this was not planned, but it does look very pretty!

The Korean meatballs are my own invention, I used some beef mince and mixed that with Gochujang, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil before shaping that into small meatballs and frying. They are great to pack into boxes and freeze well, so I made a batch to use in the coming weeks.

I hope that you have a lovely Valentine’s Day, and here are a few links to some of my previous posts that highlight (my) LOVE (for food)!

A cute boy loves girl bento made from onigiri.

I had my first blog anniversary and remade my Bunnies in Love.

Who says eggs are boring? These lovebirds were created with eggs.

And cake can be turned into love too, as these halloween pumpkin wedding couple prove.

 

Healthy snack box

healthy snack box

After eating way too many cakes in the recent months, I thought I’d better pack myself some healthy snacks 🙂

I have cut cucumber and carrot into small sticks, and rolled these up – together with some crab sticks – into lettuce leaves. Lettuce wraps are a great way to pack up all kinds of foods, like Thai inspired shrimps, Mexican taco meat, Chinese sweet chicken and so on. Or even better, make Korean Ssambap and wrap up some rice topped with grilled beef, chicken or pork!

Anyway, I digress, and even though I would love to have some Korean Samgyeopsal-gui (grilled pork belly) now, I was quite happy with how my crab-cucumber-carrot-lettuce wraps turned out. The lettuce kept the veggies moist and crisp and they were actually quite filling. To go with my wraps I also packed some radishes, blueberries, a satsuma and some nuts.

It all packed very neatly in my new Bento Box. Found it some time ago, it’s from Sistema and quite practical. It has a main compartment with a movable divider, two small compartments with individual lids, and a side compartment which comes with a small lidded pot. Of course all food, freezer and dishwasher safe. The packaging says that it can also go in the microwave, but without the lid. The lid is hinged though, and although you can detach it from the box, it’s a bit fussy, so I think I’d rather use it for cold lunches only.

And I have still lots of cake ideas that I want to make, so I guess I’d better come up with some more healthy lunch ideas as well!

Asadal

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I don’t often write about Korean restaurants. Mainly that’s because I actually don’t go to them that often and when I do, I usually go for a quick lunch and order a dolsot bibimbap.

However, this week, I didn’t make myself a packed lunch to write about, and I had recently been with friends to Asadal in Central London, so I thought to share this photo of our table full of delicious Korean food!

There are mandu, kimchi set, namul set, kimchi jeon, pajeon, japchae, kappongi (korean fried chicken) and teokbokki. And that was just starters!  We always tend to order loads of dishes to share before ordering our main dish – yep even after all this there is usually still space for a main 😛

I love the sundubu jjiggae at Asadal, and usually order that as main dish but I forgot to make a photo this time. Good reason to go again soon….

 

Name: Asadal

Address: 227 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7DA

Phone: 0207 430 9006

Webhttp://www.asadal.co.uk/

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday noon-15.00 and 18.00-23.00. Sunday 18.00-22.30

 

Many sides make a main

bento sidedishesThis weekend I looked in my fridge/cupboard and there were quite a lot of ingredients that needed to be used within the next couple of days, so I decided to make lots of side dishes to pack for my lunches this week.

The side dishes I made are all Korean (banchan);

  • Some Gamja Jorim (potato side dish, which I have made before) sprinkled with sesame seeds
  • Crispy tofu cubes, marinated in soy sauce/sesame oil and oven baked. I accidentally over baked them and they are very very crispy! But still nice 🙂
  • Oi-muchim: spicy cucumber salad, I used this recipe from Maangchi, only omitted the onion and replaced that with more green onion instead
  • A few Jang Jorim: quail eggs simmer in soy sauce (I always use this recipe) which are resting on a pickled radish/carrot salad.

Jorim is a Korean name for a type of cooking which means, “food in a boiled-down soy sauce or other seasonings”, and it makes for very tasty food but unfortunately it does make everything look rather “brown”. Because of that (and also to avoid mixing the “wet dishes”), I packed my lunch in this box which has colourful compartments and a leak-proof lid. I also used lots of food picks and added a few melon balls, both for colour and for some refreshing sweetness.

I won’t need to prepare more food for this week’s lunches so I can focus on my bakes for class (see previous post) 😉

 

Piggies on a picnic

pig onigiri bento

Felt like making some cute onigiri today and created this piggy family going on a picnic.

I made these onigiri piggies before (see my step by step tutorial); they are very easy to make although it helps if you have the pink sushi rice colouring (I buy mine from Japan, but you could use natural food colouring like beet).

The picnic the piggies took with them was: some salmon – hidden inside themselves :-), edamame and green beans, mini corn,  flowers made from carrot and omelet and some pickled radish in soy sauce (나래 오보채). Also for dessert a choco pie.

It is quite a lot of rice, so I packed it in one of my larger bento boxes.

돌솥 비빔밥

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After an exhausting week (we moved office this weekend – and guess who was the project coordinator…) I treated myself to Dolsot Bibimbap at one of the many Korean restaurants in New Malden.

The bowl (dolsot) was even hotter than usual, which made for lovely crusty rice. I actually had to immediately stir the rice after taking the above photo otherwise it would have burned!

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Although a lot of Korean food is about sharing, I don’t mind going (sometimes) for lunch on my own. It means I get to eat all the banchan 😋

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Fancy some extra fancy?

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As most readers will know, I tend to eat mainly Jaiponica rice and my favourite type so far is Koshihikari.

But I wanted to try out some Korean rice instead, however as I am pretty clueless re Korean brands I just grabbed a bag that looked good to me.
This bag drew my attention, mainly because of the new crop sticker and the “Extra fancy” text on it. Plus I liked the bunnies 😊, I think they are pounding rice for rice cakes.

This type rice seems to be called Hangawee by the brand Wang and is produced in the USA. I only bought a 10lb bag to try out but the Korean supermarket also sells it in 20lb and 50lb bags, so I guess is pretty popular here.

No clue what the other text says, but the instructions on the back all seem to be the same as with other rice: ie measure, wash, add water and cook. Oddly enough it doesn’t give any instructions on how to cook it in a rice cooker, but as I can’t seem to cook rice in any other way than in my beloved Zojirushi, I’m sure it will work out fine.

wp-1457946519481.jpgDoes anyone know this brand? Did you like – or maybe I should ask – did you fancy it?

Or can anyone recommend a Korean rice brand (that is available outside Korea)? Other brand names I have seen here in the shops are Arirang and Kyong gi. Are these any good?

Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Comfort food: Kimchi guk

Kimchi Guk

Some days you just need come comfort food!

I don’t know why, but I find a lot of Korean food qualifies as comfort food. I guess it’s all the soups and stews, and of course the Bibimbap!

This Kimchi Guk (Kimchi soup) is very simple to make, it only needs 3 to 5 (+ water) ingredients and I can eat bowl after bowl of it. It’s also a great way to use up old kimchi, or to be more precise it needs old kimchi as it just doesn’t taste the same if made with fresh kimchi.  Ideally you use that half pot of kimchi that you have lurking in the depths of your fridge and that is a week over date or so 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of well fermented, old kimchi + juice.
  • 300 grams pork belly
  • 4-5 cups of water
  • 1 block of firm tofu
  • optional: gochujang
  • optional: green onion

Method:

  • Chop up the kimchi. I find it easiest to just take some scissors and chop it up in the pot itself.
  • Put kimchi and the kimchi juices in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Slize the pork belly in bite size pieces and add to pan.
  • Add 4 cups of water.
  • Optional: depending on how spicy you like your soup, you can add a table spoon (or 2) of Gochujang.
  • Bring to the boil and cook for half an hour or so.
  • Cube the (drained) tofu, add to the soup and heat through for further 10 minutes.
  • Optional: add some green/spring onion.

If the kimchi is extremely sour, you could also add a little bit of sugar, or if it’s too fresh and not sour enough, you could add some vinegar instead.

Serve with steamed rice.