Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kimchi Pancake (김치전)

Jeon (전) is a word used to describe anything that's pancake-like in Korean food. That doesn't mean it's sweet- Koreans rarely have sweet jeon. "Pancake" just refers to the way it's cooked and the shape it takes, usually pan-frying and usually round.

My favorite jeon is probably one made of tofu, but since my mother bought (disgusting) kimchi from a store, she prepared it in one of two ways that will entice me to eat such (disgusting) kimchi: kimchi jeon!

You take (disgusting) kimchi and chop it up. (I don't have pictures because it didn't occur to me to take any until too late).

Throw the (disgusting) kimchi in a large bowl.

Add a couple eggs.

Add some flour (there's a specific jeon flour, called 부침가루, readily available in Korean grocery stores. That's what we used, but regular flour can be used, too. I think the jeon flour is somewhat finer and lighter, and the color is a little warmer than regular flour).

Stir everything together.

Add some of the kimchi liquid.

It should have a sort of loose consistency, somewhat like crepe batter (slightly thinner than pancake batter).

Once mixed:

Not an attractive picture, I know. But it's not a very attractive dish!

Dollop some of the batter into a hot pan that's been greased (we used grapeseed oil, and quite a bit! Perhaps 1, 1.5 tablespoons before the jeon went in). Keep the shape round-ish and try not to let the watery part of the batter bleed all over the place.


I can't flip these things over to save my life, to be honest. When I make jeon, I make them quite small (there are some types of jeon that are meant to be small, some that are meant to be large, like this. I make all of them small).

You can tell when a jeon needs to be flipped over because it will move readily when you shake the pan, and there's no liquid left on the top of it.

Some more oil is generally needed once the jeon is flipped, otherwise it'll try to stick to the pan.

Once it's been fried up and is done, let it rest. We placed paper towels on a large flat strainer, to get some excess grease off. I like jeon to have a nice crispy exterior and a soft, steaming-hot interior. Excess grease does not allow that to happen!

Done! Plated, and seconds later, completely devoured.

The jeon we made today were probably 6 or 7 inches wide (just large enough to be hard to flip over).

I've been posting about food a lot lately, and I think I know why.

I recently moved back to my parents' house after having lived alone for five years in various parts of L.A. My parents live in Cerritos, which is still in L.A. county but is more ... suburban, let's say. There are a lot of Asian people here (particularly Koreans) and there are at least 5 Korean grocery stores close enough to frequent. That makes acquiring ingredients very easy.

Most recently, I lived in Playa del Rey. A mile from the Pacific ocean, in the middle of mostly white people. (Is that rude? Should I say "caucasian" or "Anglo-Saxon" or something?) Korean ingredients were hard to come by, and I was always afraid that my neighbors would think I was performing some strange rituals if I started cooking (smelly) Korean food.

Now that I live here, in the middle of yellow people, I have no qualms about cooking whatever Korean food I want! Plus, instead of a condo, I live in a house now. No neighbors that share walls or any such things.

I'm sure there will be more posts about more Korean food in the future, until I get sick of it (hardly likely) and start branching out into something different.

Oddly enough, we had kimchi jeon for lunch and now have a lasagna cooking away in the oven for dinner! My family is eclectic, if nothing else.

(By the way- is there anything so delicious as lasagna when you're in the mood for meat and cheese??)

For New Year's Eve, my family always congregates (just the nuclear family) and we stay up, watching some sort of New Year's countdown, while drinking wine and eating cheese and crackers. I guess we're not as Korean as I thought we were...