Gyeran Jjim (계란찜) in Hot Pot – Savory Korean Egg Souffle

Gyeran/Kyeran Jjim (계란찜) Korean Savory Egg Souffle
Gyeran/Kyeran Jjim (계란찜) Korean Savory Egg Souffle
Gyeran/Kyeran Jjim (계란찜) Korean Savory Egg Souffle /Steamed Egg in Hot Pot

Gyeran/Kyeran Jjim(계란찜) or Dalgyal Jjim(달걀찜) is a Korean side dish made from eggs. Gyeran and Dalgyal both mean ‘egg’ in Korean. I know this must be always so confusing about the Korean language – there’s usually two different words that mean the same thing. Korean language has words that come from two different origins – one based on Chinese characters and the other is based on pure Korean phonetic characters called Hangeul which was created by King Sejong in 1443. Gyeran comes from Chinese characters and Dalgyal/Dalkyal is a pure Korean word.

So, my inspiration for this dish?? July is always a happy, busy and expensive (according to my hubby;) ) month for our family. Our wedding anniversary and our only daughter’s birthday are all in July. And then there’s July 4th weekend…and it’s also summer vacation time!!! We usually have a fabulous time traveling, going out to expensive restaurants to celebrate and buy each other gifts. But then when the time comes to pay the bills at the end of the month, we usually end up having a fight..trying to blame each other for spending too much money… haha. This year though, thankfully, my husband and I were invited to spend the 4th weekend at my friend K’s beautiful vacation home in Lake Tahoe which meant we did not have to pay for lodging!! Yay!!! Thank you K, for the invite. :))

View from Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe, CA
View of ski slopes in summer from Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe, CA

At Lake Tahoe, we had great fun meeting and making new friends (who were also invited to K’s home). And during a conversation about my blog with a young man- who will be moving out on his own very soon – I was asked how he could cook some Korean dishes for himself. Until he asked me a recipe for Gyeran Jjim, I was able to answer most of his questions with – “Oh, it’s in my blog.. I have a post on it”. But for Gyeran Jjim, I realized I did not have a post about on it.  I couldn’t believe I left out this classic!!! This Korean steamed egg (in hot pot or not) souffle side dish (banchan) is such a great quick, easy, nutritious and filling recipe for college students, singles, kids and anyone who loves eggs. I don’t know why I missed this one. Thank you Andrew for asking!

Just like how we all have a different omelette version that we like, I think Gyeran Jjim (Korean steamed egg omelette) is one of those dishes that people have different tastes for and different ingredients are added to make each Gyeran Jjim unique. So I shall now begin a series of posts on Gyeran/Kyeran Jjim and end with a summary post on all the different methods and ingredients you can use to cook this ultimate Korean comfort food. So, are you ready to follow me?? :)

First, in this post, I will introduce the recipe version that is not the most classic but it’s certainly the dish you have most likely seen it served at restaurants. The most classic way is to steam it in a double boiler and that’s how our moms used to make it at home. At many Korean BBQ restaurants these days, for some reason, they cook it directly on the fire and it comes to you in hot pot, steaming – hot, hot. Sometimes the bottom part will be burnt and this is absolutely my favorite part.

Servings: 2 – 3                      Cooking Time: 20 min                           Difficulty: EASY

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs (large)
  • 200 ml water (3/4 cup + 1 Tbs)
  • 1 Tbs chopped green onion
  • 2 tsp saewoojeot(salted fermented shrimp) – substitute fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3-4 dashes black pepper
  • red chili pepper powder (optional)
  1.  Chop green onions, saewoojeot (fermented shrimp) and mix with sesame oil, sugar and black pepper. Let it sit for few min.

    Green Onions, fermented shrimp(saewoojeot) mix for gyeran jjim
    Green Onions, fermented shrimp(saewoojeot) mix for gyeran jjim
  2. Whip 4 eggs in a bowl and add water. Mix again.
  3. Add green onions + saewoojeot mixture from 1 and mix with egg.

    Whipped eggs and water for Gyeran Jjim
    Whipped eggs and water for Gyeran Jjim
  4. Add to your favorite hot pot (ttukbaegi 뚝배기) and put on the stove on MEDIUM heat, covered for 7-8 min.

    Gyeran Jjim at 8 min after cooking
    Gyeran Jjim at 8 min after cooking
  5. At this point, egg should be semi cooked, still very watery. Stir the egg mixture (bring bottom to top) to ensure even cooking. Cover again.

    Gyeran Jjim stirred (but not shaken ;) )
    Gyeran Jjim stirred (but not shaken ;) )
  6. Turn heat to LOW. Finish cooking for another 3 min.
    Gyeran Jjim @11 min after cooking - done!
    Gyeran Jjim all risen like a souffle! @11 min after cooking – done!

    Cook a little more if you like the bottom to be a little burnt. But not more than 1 – 2 min.

  7. Sprinkle some more black pepper, red chili powder (optional) and chopped green onion as garnish.

    Inside of Gyeran Jjim cooked in hot pot
    Inside of Gyeran Jjim (Korean savory egg souffle) cooked in hot pot

Here’s a close up of the inside of Gyeran Jjim cooked in ttukbaegi (hot pot). See the browned bottom? And the yummy broth? My mouth is watering just looking at this picture. BTW, this one is made with chopped cooked pork belly – my Dad’s special recipe. Be sure to check back my next posts as I will share the following recipes –

  • Two of my Dad’s special Gyeran Jjim recipes – pork belly and myeongranjeot(salted pollack roe)
  • Easy Microwave Gyeran Jjim recipe for college students
  • Elegant Steamed Gyeran Jjim for party menu – so pretty
  • Kid friendly Gyeran Jjim that’s nutritious and yummy (no special Korean ingredients needed)

Enjoy!!

Cold Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae 해파리 냉채 ) with starflower

Korean jellyfish salad (Haepari Naengchae) with lemon and borage petals
Korean Cold Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae) www.kimchimari.com
Korean Cold Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae) with cucumber, carrots, shrimp and meyer lemon.

Really? Jellyfish?? Can you eat jellyfish? Yes, of course. Why not?..I don’t think it’s that different than eating squid..I am pretty sure that I tasted jellyfish even before I knew what it was. And don’t worry about the jellyfish poison, the tentacles are all removed before they are packaged.

If you eat the jellyfish without thinking about it, it is pretty darn good. It actually doesn’t have any strong flavor but has great texture; it’s a little bit chewy and a little bit crunchy. It’s kind of like chicken cartilage.  I think it’s one of those things where you either love it or you don’t. My husband is not a jellyfish or cartilage guy but I love both!

If you can’t get jellyfish or you just don’t like it, omit the jellyfish.  Cheonsachae (천사채) can be also be a great substitute because it has similar texture and not much of a particular flavor. Cheonsachae (Angle Noodle or Seaweed Noodle) are Korean half-transparent noodles made from the jelly-like extract left after steaming kombu, without the addition of grain flour or starch. (wikepedia). Both jellyfish and Seaweed Noodle are very low calorie food, so it’s also great for your diet!

Korean Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae) is an essential dish to any Korean party menu. Especially in the summer, served cold, it pairs wonderfully well with rich foods like Kalbi and other grilled meats, fried dishes like Yache Twigim and/or various Jeons like Beef and Perilla. You will agree with me that a respectable Korean banquet is never complete without Jeons!! Although I kind of think Jeons take a looong time to make and you end up with just one dish.

Anyway, jellyfish salad is also a great dish to prepare beforehand, keeping chilled in the fridge and you only need to assemble when the guests arrive. I LOVE dishes like that, don’t you? When preparing a party menu, it’s not a matter of how many dishes you have, it’s how they all work together.

Traditional Haepari Naengche only uses cucumber and jellyfish and only uses vinegar for the sour taste. But I have a beautiful Meyer Lemon tree in my back yard and I just love the freshness a lemon brings to the dish, so I added some lemon. And it came out even more delicious! Many newer recipes add more colorful vegetables like red bell peppers but I decided to add carrots as my twist to the dish. I think carrots add more substance and texture that can stand up to the jellyfish pretty well.

Servings: 4               Cooking Time: 1 hr (inactive 45 min)            Difficulty: easy

Ingredients

  • 6 oz (170 g) salted jelly fish (haepari)
  • 1 english cucumber, julienned
  • 2 small or 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • Dressing
    • 1 T rice vinegar
    • 1 T sugar
    • 2 tsp dry oriental mustard + 1 T water
    • 1 T meyer lemon (2 tsp regular lemon)
    • 1 tsp salt
  1. Korean Jellyfish usually comes in a bag, heavily salted for preservation. Rinse jellyfish with water couple times to get rid of all the salt and let it soak in cold water for about 45 min.

    Rinsed jellyfish for Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)
    Rinsed jellyfish for Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)
  2. While the jellyfish is swimming in water, julienne cucumber. A technique that many Korean chefs use is to first peel away the outer skin and flesh part of the cucumber, omitting the seeded center.
    Korean cucumber julienning technique
    Korean cucumber julienning technique – peeling outer layer
    julienning cucumber using Korean technique
    julienning cucumber using Korean technique

    It is called “dolyeo kkaki( 돌려깍기)” in Korean which means to shave in circular fashion. I am usually not a huge fan of fancy cutting techniques just for the sake of being fancy but this one has a purpose because it keeps only the very crunchy part of the cucumber.

  3. Julienne carrots into similar sizes. I used yellow and purple carrots here but you can use whatever carrot you like.

    carrots and cucumber julienned for jellyfish salad
    carrots and cucumber julienned for jellyfish salad
  4. I am using pre-cooked frozen shrimp here again. Just thaw and then halve the shrimps lengthwise.
    Sliced shrimps for Korean jellyfish salad
    Sliced shrimps for Korean jellyfish salad

    You are welcome to use fresh shrimp if you’d like, just cook, peel and slice similarly.

  5. Make the oriental yellow mustard paste by mixing 2 tsp dry mustard powder with 1 T water.
    Korean yellow mustard (Gyeoja) made from Oriental Mustard powder www.kimchimari.com
    Korean yellow mustard (Gyeoja/Kyeoja) made from Oriental Mustard powder

    Leave it alone for 4-5 min or more for the flavor to fully develop. If you’re too lazy to make the paste, use the yellow mustard tube but be prepared to use lot more of the paste because the flavors are just not as full bodied and strong as the powder.

  6. When the jellyfish has been in the water for over 40 min, boil some water (3 cups?). Rinse and drain jellyfish into a steel or silicone colander (because you will be scorching the jellyfish with boiling water). Pour boiling water onto the jellyfish evenly and they will shrivel up like this!
    Jellyfish flash cooked with boiling water
    Jellyfish flash cooked with boiling water

    Be careful and DON’T COOK the jellyfish!! Just SHOCK it so that jellyfish (haepari) gets even more crunchy and less chewy. Some recipes use jellyfish without this step and it will still be OK but I think this really gives a better texture.

  7. Season jellyfish with 2 T vinegar and 1 T sugar and marinade for at least 10 min. You can leave in the fridge overnight and  it will taste even better the next day.  NOTE:: Sometimes jellyfish can smell a little bit. What to do if the jellyfish smells a little bad? Add some extra lemon or even add a bit of gingerale or sprite to the marinade to help get rid of any unwanted smell.
  8. Make dressing by mixing mustard, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and salt and set aside.
  9. Serve chilled, either all the ingredients separately and mix with dressing at the table
    different ways of serving Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae) www.kimchimari.com
    different ways of serving Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae) with meyer lemon slices and borage flowers

    or toss everything together and serve. Hope you enjoy it with your friends and family this summer! Let me know how you like it!!

Few more things..

So what are the purple flowers in the water bowl and also on top of the jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)? It’s Starflower (aka Borage)! A new exciting discovery for me!! A great find at my local Whole Foods. They where selling this in a pot this spring, I brought it home and planted it. Did you know that these cute purple flowers are edible and taste like cucumbers?!! It’s actually eaten in salads and as tea in Mediterranean cuisine. So I added some Borage petals to my Haepari Naenchae for added cucumber flavor and for added prettiness. :))

Borage plant growing in my backyard
Borage plant growing in my backyard
Korean jellyfish salad (Haepari Naengchae) with lemon and borage petals
Korean jellyfish salad (Haepari Naengchae) with lemon and borage (starflower) petals

Tips

  • Prepare jellyfish and cucumber, carrots separately, a day ahead of any party.
  • Additional ingredients to add – cooked egg strips (jidan), imitation crab meat.
  • Add freshly chopped garlic on top and some red chili pepper oil for extra zing!

Three color vegetables (Samsaek Namul)- Brown Gosari

Korean Three color vegetable (samsaek namul)
Korean Bracken Fiddlehead (Gosari) Namul
Korean Bracken Fiddlehead (Gosari) Namul

Brown Gosari (고사리)/Kosari or Bracken Fiddleheads namul is the last of the Korean three color vegetables (samsaek namul 삼색나물) dish that I have been blogging about.

Bracken belongs to a genus of large, coarse ferns in the family Dennstaedtiaceae. As ferns, brackens do not have seeds or fruits, but the immature fronds, known as fiddlehead greens, are eaten in different cultures. Bracken is one of the oldest ferns, with fossil records over 55 million years old having been found. In Korea, Gosari(고사리) comes usually in dried form and is eaten as a side dish or added to bibimbap, yukyejang or bindaetteok.

I love the earthy flavor and the chewy texture of Gosari but my husband refuses to eat it, so I never got to cook Gosari as often as I would have liked. Why does he not eat it? Not because he doesn’t like the taste, not because he is allergic to it, not because of the carcinogen (I talk about this at the end of the post)…but because he, like many other Korean men, believe in the myth that it reduces their stamina..lol..

I always wondered if there was any truth to that but never got around to researching about it. But you know.. yukyejang and bibimbap are just not the same without gosari but since he won’t eat them, I often ended up cooking without Gosari. So I was so happy that I chose to make gosari for this post because it was so yummy.. I forgot how good it was.

In case you are wondering where the myth came from – I researched a little bit on why one would say Gosari (Bracken Fiddlehead) is not good for men and there was nothing to support that.  The closest explanation I could find why was that uncooked bracken contains the enzyme thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine (vitamin b1). Which means eating excessive quantities of bracken can cause beriberi – a disease that can make one very weak. But in any case, this is not at all a concern if you are going to cook the bracken because the enzyme gets destroyed when you cook it. So don’t worry, be happy and eat!

Servings: 4              Prep Time: 1 day  Cooking time: 20 min   Difficulty: easy

Ingredients

  • 1.4 oz (40 g)Dried Bracken Fiddlehead (고사리 Gosari)
  • 1 Tbs soup soy sauce (guk kanjang/kuk ganjang/gook kanjang) or 1 tsp more
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 T chopped green onion
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 T water
  • 1 tsp sweet rice flour
  1. Soak dried gosari in water for 24 hrs.
    Dried Bracken Fiddlehead Gosari
    Dried Bracken Fiddlehead Gosari
    Rehydrating Gosari (Dried Bracken) in water
    Rehydrating Gosari (Dried Bracken) in water

    Gosari has gotten nice and plump after soaking in water for a day.

    Re-hydrated Gosari after soaking overnight in water
    Re-hydrated Gosari after soaking overnight in water
  2. Mix 1 Tbs of water and 1 tsp of sweet rice flour and set aside.
  3. Drain gosari.
  4. Bring water to boil in a pot and blanch gosari in boiling water for couple minutes or until it is soft enough to your liking.
  5. Cool cooked gosari in cold water and drain.

    rehydrated and boild bracken fiddleheads (gosari고사리)
    rehydrated and boild bracken fiddleheads (gosari고사리)
  6. This step is quite tedious but necessary to enjoy soft Gosari: sort through gosari stems and break off any bottom stem parts that are too fibrous and hard. The way to tell if it’s too hard is to try breaking if off. If it doesn’t easily break off then it’s probably too stringy to chew. It is similar to cutting off thick woody stems off of asparagus.
  7. Line up gosari (fiddleheads) and cut into 3 in (7.5 cm) lengths. In my case, it was cutting the length into thirds.

    Cutting gosari for gosari namul
    Cutting gosari for gosari namul
  8. Put gosari in a bowl and season with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, green onions and sesame seeds. Mix it well with your hands so it is seasoned evenly.
  9. Heat a frying pan on medium heat, add 1 Tbs of vegetable oil and saute seasoned fiddleheads for 2 min.

    Cooked bracken fiddleheads (gosari namul)
    Cooked bracken fiddleheads (gosari namul)
  10. Pour 1/2 cup of water, cover and steam on medium heat for 5 min or until most of the water has evaporated. Uncover.
  11. Add sweet rice flour water to pan with fiddleheads. Saute for another 1-2 min until well mixed.

Now it’s done!

Koreans have been eating Gosari for centuries but as I was researching about this fern, I found out that Gosari (Bracken fiddlehead) is a very controversial vegetable. On the one hand, Bracken/Gosari has many health benefits because it is high in protein, vitamin b2 and fiber. According to traditional Korean medical books, it says that Gosari can be used to treat fever, insomnia and also can clear the mind. But on the other hand, there are studies that show it increased bladder cancers in farm animals who ingested Bracken fern raw. There is also a study that say Bracken caused stomach cancer in laboratory mice due to a carcinogen in the Gosari. And there were even articles that mentioned there may be a link between the very high rate of stomach cancer in Koreans and Japanese and the Gosari being a popular vegetable in both Korean and Japanese diet.

But here are my conclusions:

  1. RAW vs COOKED – the carcinogen is water soluble and so if you cook it well in water and drain, lot of it will get washed out. The dried Gosari namul which is the kind that most Koreans eat, is first boiled and dried. And then you will see that Gosari is kind of cook to death (haha) as it goes thru several steps of rehydration, blanching, etc. So the chances of any of the carcinogen being left is very very small.
  2. Link to stomach cancer – the latest studies show the most likely cause of Korean’s stomach cancer is due to bacterial infection (h pylori) and also due to the high salt diet.
  3. If anything, Koreans eat much less Gosari than 15 years ago and the number of stomach cancer has remained steady (between 1999 to 2009) while the number of colon cancer has almost doubled along with breast cancer which they attribute largely to a more westernized diet (which also can imply Koreans eat Gosari less often).

So don’t worry, just cook these three vegetables and enjoy them as a side dish or as part of bibimbap!

three_namul_c

Three color vegetables (삼색나물 Samsaek Namul) – White

Korean Radish Saute Side Dish (Mu/Moo Namul Banchan)
Korean Radish Saute Side Dish (Mu/Moo Namul Banchan)
Korean Radish Saute Side Dish (Mu/Moo Namul Banchan)

Sam (pronounced saam) means 3 in Korean and saek means color. So samsaek namul means vegetables of 3 colors: specifically white, black/brown and green. I will be writing a 3 series post about this dish since it’s actually 3 different dishes often plated in one. Today’s post will be on White radish namul.

Recently, all of a sudden, I had this craving for mu namul (무나물) – a surprisingly delicious Korean radish namul/banchan/side dish. The most yummy memories of mu/moo namul come from my visits to Dr. Okgil Kim’s country side home during my college years. Dr. Okgil Kim is a well respected Korean woman educator who was also the 8th president of Ewha Woman’s university (1961-1979) – my alma mater – and the Secretary of Education. After having served in the public office, she retired to a beautiful but humble home in the area of Munkyung Saejae(문경세재) .

Dr. Kim is someone I have the utmost respect for. Both in terms of the work that she did to advance woman’s status and education in Korea and also in terms of how she lived her everyday life. She was a counselor, comforter, super generous human being who was also bold and free spirited. Living as a single working woman was not an easy feat in those days and she overcame it with humor which was a rarity – and is still today to some extent -in Korean society.

I am not sure how our family became close to her other than the fact that my parents and Dr. Kim all fled from North to South Korea during the Korean war. Our family shared similar tastes in food and also temperament which is North Korean style – honest, no nonsense, no frills, just see and tell things like it is.. Perhaps that’s where some of my candid stories and opinions come from.. :)).

The doors to her home in Munkyung Saejae province was always open to any visitor that wanted to come and rest, eat or sleep..It was truly a place for all to enjoy. Anyway, where is this all leading? Well, one of Dr. Kim Okgil’s favorite banchan was the radish namul. Strangely for a Korean, she did NOT like garlic or overly spicy dishes. Some people thought foods served at her home were even kind of bland but I thought they were simply down to earth good – just like the owner of the home.

Going back to Samseak Namul..here is a list of vegetables that make up each color.

  • For white: root vegetables like bellflower roots (도라지 Doraji) and radish (무나물 munamul)
  • For black: vegetable stems like fiddlehead ferns (고사리 gohsari) and sweet potato stems(고구마줄기 goguma julki)
  • For green: leaf vegetables like spinach(시금치 sikeumchi), water dropwart(미나리 minari) and perilla leaves (깻잎 kkaetnip)

I also love bellflower roots and please refer to my bibimbap post on how to make doraji namul (bellflower root namul) recipe.

The recipe below was based on my sister #2’s memory from the time she helped out at Dr Kim’s kitchen during those times. Thank you Sis!

Servings: 3                     Cooking Time: 10 min                          Difficulty: easy

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb Korean radish
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 tsp grated ginger juice
  • 1/4~1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (or perilla seed oil)
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling
Cutting radish for mu/moo namul (korean)
Cutting radish for mu/moo namul (korean)
  1.  Cut radish into 2 inch (5 cm) thick chunks.

    How to peel radish for Korean mu namul
    How to peel radish for Korean mu namul
  2. Peel the radish with a knife. Korean radish has a thick skin so using a regular peeler will be more work (probably two layers or more).

    Slicing radish for mu namul (Korean Radish Namul)
    Slicing radish for mu namul (Korean Radish Saute/Namul/side dish)
  3. Slice radish chunk vertically into 1/2~3/4 in (1cm) thick slices. I made mine thick but you can certainly slice them thinner. Don’t slice them too thin because radish will break easily if too thin.
  4. Cut radish slices into sticks.

    Radish sticks for Korean Radish Saute (mu namul) side dish
    Radish sticks for Korean Radish Saute (mu namul) side dish
  5. Add oil to pan and sauté for 3 min on medium heat. Add 1/2 C water and lower heat, cover and cook for 5-6 min. Stirring occasionally.
  6. Add 1/4~1/2 tsp sea salt. Squeeze 1 tsp fresh grated ginger to add the juice only. You can use chopped garlic instead but I like ginger better.

    Radish sauteed in pan (mu namul)
    Radish sauteed in pan (mu namul)
  7. Sauté over med high heat until radishes are cooked and liquid evaporates. Radish sticks should be semi-transparent when cooked. Finish by adding sesame oil or perilla seed oil (들기름 deul kireum), sprinkling of sesame seeds.

And there you have it! It is amazingly simple to make but just like how french style glazed root vegetables like carrots and turnips can taste amazing when cooked properly, Korean radishes can taste simply divine when made this way. Any bitterness or peppery flavor goes away while the sauteeing really brings out the best of the radish: slightly sweet and soothing with the soft yet slightly crunchy texture being perfectly balanced.  Mu/moo namul is a side dish(banchan) that goes great with any Korean meal.

Storage – store in refrigerator up to a week

Make a quick and yummy bibimbap by mixing with some warm rice (multi-grain is even better), mu namul and yangnyeom jang (soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped green onions and garlic and sesame seeds) to make a fabulous gluten-free, vegetarian meal.

Korean Radish Saute Side Dish (Mu/Moo Namul Banchan)
Korean Radish Saute Side Dish (Mu/Moo Namul Banchan)

I will post on the next two color vegetables (black and green) very soon so check back soon. Enjoy!

Seafood Green Onion Pancake (Dongrae or Haemul Pajeon 동래 해물파전)

DongraePajeon 동래파전 (Korean Seafood Green Onion Pancake)
DongraePajeon 동래파전 (Korean Seafood Green Onion Pancake)
DongraePajeon 동래파전 (Korean Seafood Green Onion Pancake)

There was a special kind of Haemul (Seafood) Pajeon (파전) that was served at fancy parties at our home when I was little, many years ago… And I have been looking for the recipe of this very yummy seafood green onion pancake for a long time. I did not have the recipe because it is not a dish that my mom or dad made but it was a dish that was made by a professional chef who came to cook for my parent’s Diplomatic dinner parties. Mrs. Shim was her name and all her food was just really delicious.

So when we had these dinner parties,  I waited and waited until dinner was all served (at least 9pm or so?) so I could have the leftovers because they were all so good. I prayed that the guests had small stomachs or was too proper and did not ask for seconds.. :) Also another way I got to taste Mrs. Shim’s food was to hang around in the kitchen all day and seek opportunities for tasting or cleaning up defective pieces that did not meet her standard.

This special kind of Haemul Pajeon is called Dongrae/Dongnae Pajeon (동래파전)- named after the region of Dongrae/Dongnae which is basically the area of the city of Busan today. For some reason, this pancake loaded with green onions and tons of seafood has lost popularity over the years and I almost forgot about it. But recently, I was reminded of this fabulous pancake when my nephew SW bragged about the delicious Dongrae Pajeon made by his wife EH who is from Busan. So.. thank you EH for the inspiration!!

Unlike the common, everyday Korean Pajeon (Green Onion Pancake) which is made by just mixing everything together – batter, seafood, vegetables and all – Dongrae/Dongnae Pajeon is made in several steps or layers which is more work but definitely worth the effort. It is much more flavorful because there is less batter and more seafood and tons of green onions.

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is… ;) Let’s get cooking then –

OH! BTW – I provide 2 sauces in the recipe but you can certainly make just one. Chokanjang is the usual soy sauce served with most Korean Pancakes but try Chogochujang, I made it at the suggestion from my nephew’s wife and I was surprised how good it tasted together!

Servings: 3 pancakes (6×4 in)     Cooking Time: 40       Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients for Seafood Green Onion Pancake (Dongrae/Dongnae Pajeon)

      • 7 oz (200 g) young green onions (approx 2 bunches), thinner the better
      • 2 oz (50 g) minari/water dropwort or water cress – optional
      • 4 oz (100 g) small shrimps (frozen is fine)
      • 4 oz (100 g) bay scallops and/or chopped clams
      • 3 oz (75 g) ground beef
        • 2 tsp soy sauce (진간장 jinkanjang)
        • 1 tsp plum syrup (maesil extract 매실액) or 1/2 tsp sugar
        • 1 tsp mirin or rice wine or sake
        • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
        • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
      • 1/2 C (50g) regular flour
      • 3/4 C (150g) rice flour
      • 1/4 C (50g) sweet rice flour
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 1 ~ 2 egg
      • vegetable oil for pan frying
      • 2 C (360 ml) anchovy stock or water
      • Chokanjang (sour soy sauce)
        • 1 Tbs soy sauce
        • 1 Tbs vinegar
        • 1 Tbs water
        • 1/2 tsp sugar
        • sprinkle of sesame seeds
      • Chogochujang (spicy sweet red pepper sauce)
        • 1 Tbs Korean Gochujang (red pepper paste)
        • 1 Tbs vinegar (rice wine or white) or 1 Tbs lemon juice
        • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
        • sprinkle of sesame seeds

*** If scallops or shrimps are frozen, thaw them in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

  1. Make Chogochujang sauce by mixing gochujang, vinegar, sugar and sesame seeds.
  2. Make Chokanjang sauce by mixing soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and water. Set aside.
  3. Clean green onions and minari. Cut green onions 6 in (15 cm) long.This is usually 1/2 of the full length of green onions sold in US.
    cleaned minari and green onions for Pajeon
    cleaned minari and young green onions for Pajeon

    The green onions used for Pajeon should be young and tender – called 실파(shilpa) in Korean. If your green onions are any thicker than 1/2 in (1 cm) then cut it in half or smash the white part with the side of your knife to make it tender.

    Smashing green onions for Pajeon
    Smashing green onions for Pajeon
  4. Cut minari 3 ” (7 cm) long. About 1/2 length of your green onions. Reason for cutting minari shorter is because they are quite fibrous and will be too chewy if left too long. Normally, only minari stems are used but these minaris are quite young and tender so use the leaves too. Use minari leaves as garnish and serve on the side to add a touch of freshness to your pajeon. (See serving suggestion pic at the end of post)

    Cutting minari/water dropwort for Pajeon
    Cutting minari/water dropwort for Pajeon
  5. My thawed shrimps (pre-cooked) and bay scallops. Bought frozen from the Korean market. Cute aren’t they?

    Thawed shrimp and scallop
    Thawed shrimp and scallop
  6. Chop the scallops and shrimp roughly into big chunks.
  7. Season the ground beef by adding the soy sauce, mirin, maesil syrup or sugar, chopped garlic and sesame oil.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk egg.
  9. In another bowl, make the batter by mixing flour + rice flour + sweet rice flour and anchovy stock. Rice flour likes to settle to the bottom so stir it well and be sure to stir right before you use it.
  10. Now we are ready to make the pancake! You should have all the prepared ingredients next to your pan like this (minus oil) –

    Dongrae Pajeon (Korean seafood Pancake) ingredients
    Dongrae Pajeon (Korean seafood Pancake) ingredients
  11. Heat a nice thick pan (cast iron is great) on med-high heat. Pour about 2 T oil into pan.
  12. Layer green onions in pan and then minari on top:

    Green onions and Minari in pan
    Green onions and Minari in pan
  13. Pour batter over green onions and minari. DO NOT try to cover all the green onions with the batter – you will end up adding too much batter. Pancake will taste doughy if you have too much batter.  Pour about 2-3 Tbs per pancake – just enough for green onions to hold together.

    green onions and minari with batter
    green onions and minari with batter – do not add too much batter
  14. Quickly (lower heat to med. if you think it’s burning) dot the pancake with ground beef + scallops + shrimp. Using your hands works best – just be careful!

    Seafood and Beef on Green Onion pancake (Pajeon)
    Seafood and Beef on Green Onion pancake (Pajeon)
  15. Top with 1/3 of whisked egg (pancake on the right). If you like eggs, you can use up to 1 whole egg per pancake.
  16. Turn the pancake over to cook the other side.

    Pajeon turned over
    Pajeon (Green Onion Pancake) turned over
  17. Let it cook for another 2 min or so until pancake is nicely browned.
  18. And there it is!

    Dongrae Pajeon with Chogochujang
    Dongrae Pajeon – Korean Seafood Green Onion Pancake with Chogochujang

Serving Suggestions

  • This Dongrae Pajeon (Korean Seafood Green Onion Pancake) pairs wonderfully with Korean Rice Wine – Makgeolli/Makgeoli/Maguli (막걸리) so you must give it a try!!

Variations for Haemul Dongrae/Dongnae Pajeon

  • Original version includes chopped clams so if you can add it, it should be good
  • Calamari, mussels, oysters are also great additions or substitutions
  • Just use 3/4 C flour and 3/4 sweet rice flour to make the batter if you don’t have regular rice flour

Steamed Eggplant Namul (가지나물 Gaji Namul)

Eggplant Namul (가지나물 Gahji Namul)

 

Eggplant Namul (가지나물 Gahji Namul)
Eggplant Namul (가지나물 Gaji Namul)

Honestly, I never liked this dish when I was a kid. It’s because I was very sensitive to texture of foods when I was little. Anything that’s too mushy or too chewy, too gummy or too gooey – my stomach could not take it. And most often than not, eggplants were cooked too long and it was just too mushy for my taste. I have gotten much less picky about texture as I got older but I am still not a big fan of hwe(회)/raw fish mostly because of its texture. I have no problem eating raw things – I love raw abalone because they have a very interesting texture when raw – slightly slippery but soft on the outside and chewy + hard on the inside. But raw fish, I keep chewing and chewing but it has a hard time going down my throat. In fact, it wants to come back out a lot of times.. ;)

However, after coming to Korea, I have learned that if the fish is absolutely fresh, the texture is much more firm and I can stomach it much better. But honestly, I am still not a huge fan of raw fish. ;)

Back to eggplants.. so ever since I visited the wonderful countryside of Italy’s Montepulciano several years ago, my thoughts about eggplant has totally changed. The vacation home we stayed in had its own vegetable garden and I got to cook and taste fresh eggplant picked right from the garden. It was just simply amazing!! Perhaps this is when my dream of combining farming and cooking started. The taste was so amazing that I wanted to share with people how absolutely different tasting a dish could be when fresh, fully ripened ingredients are used.

Now, let’s get started!

Servings: 2-3                          Cooking time: 10 min                    Difficulty: easy

Ingredients

  • 220g/8 oz approx 2 eggplants – Asian long eggplant works best
  • For Sauce
    • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (진간장 Jinkanjang) – kikomann or Korean sampyo
    • 1 tsp chopped garlic (마늘 maneul)
    • 1 tsp sesame oil (참기름 chamkireum)
    • 1 tsp sesame seeds (깨 Kkae)
    • 1/4 tsp Korean gook kanjang (국간장 gook kanjang) – optional but adds incredible flavor
    • 1 tsp chopped green chili peppers (풋고추 putgochoo)
    • 1/4 tsp sugar (설탕 seoltang)
    • 1/4 tsp solar sea salt (굵은 바다 소금)
    • 1/8~1/4 tsp red chili powder (고추가루 gochukaroo)
  1.  Wash eggplants. Cut off the top part and then lengthwise in half. For quicker steaming, you can cut the eggplants into smaller pieces before they are steamed. It works but it’s just not the same – more flavor will be lost when the pieces are smaller.

    Cutting eggplants in half
    Cutting eggplants in half
  2. Steam eggplants for about 10 min or 5 min after water starts to boil.

    steaming eggplant for namul
    steaming eggplant for namul
  3. Until eggplant is easily pierced with chopstick with no resistance. Do not overcook eggplant and make it mushy – please. :)

    checking steamed eggplant to see if it's cooked
    checking steamed eggplant to see if it’s cooked
  4. Make sauce by combining sauce ingredients.

    sauce for eggplant namul
    sauce for eggplant namul – minus green chili peppers
  5. Once eggplants are steamed, cool for few minutes. Cut eggplant halves into 2 or 3 shorter chunks. Tear each eggplant chunk into smaller pieces by hand – just like how mom’s made them for many years.

    tearing steamed eggplant for namul
    tearing steamed eggplant for namul
  6. Toss torn eggplant pieces with the sauce. Use your handy dandy plastic glove if you have one. Again, handle eggplant gently, do not bruise them.
    sauce over steamed torn eggplants
    sauce over steamed torn eggplants

    Add green chili peppers and toss again.

    steamd eggplant tossed in sauce
    steamd eggplant tossed in sauce for Korean eggplant namul (가지나물 Gaji Namul)
  7. And that is all! Serve at room temperature.
    Eggplant namul (가지나물 Gahji Namul)
    Eggplant namul (가지나물 Gaji Namul)

    This gaji namul is so good that you can even eat it just by itself and some rice. Or it’s great as a side dish to any Korean meal. Enjoy!

Sweet Kabocha Squash Salad (단호박 샐러드 Danhobak Salad)

Korean Kabocha Squash (단호박 Danhobak) Salad
Korean Kabocha Squash (단호박 Danhobak) Salad
Korean Kabocha Squash (단호박 Danhobak) Salad

Danhobak(단호박)/Kabocha Squash and Goguma (고구마)/Sweet potato are probably some of the most popular ingredient in Korea these days. I say that because I see these two ingredients everywhere – actually to the point where I am tired of seeing them as the ‘featured’ ingredient in a dish. One of the things that bothers me the most is how Koreans add sweet potato to pizza. Mashed sweet potato is used to either top the pizza or to fill the crust with. I just can’t imagine that tasting good – I mean adding a pasty, sweet substance on top of pizza?? I guess I will have to give it a try someday just to prove myself right but for now, I will pass. :)

So, when I first encountered Danhobak Salad at our local restaurant, I was not sure I was going to like it. But surprisingly this was good. So I had to try making it. Before we go on, a little history behind it:

Kabocha Squash or Danhobak (단호박) is a relatively new vegetable in the Korean kitchen. This squash only appeared in Korea about 20 years ago in the 90’s. Before then, there were only green zucchini type squashes and giant pumpkins (늙은 호박 neulgeun hobak). The giant pumpkins are exactly the same as Halloween pumpkins in the US. Except, in Korea, the giant pumpkins are left in the field longer into fall, until they are fully aged (Neulgeun means ‘aged’). At which point the pumpkins become pale orange and rock hard.

These aged pumpkins (늙은 호박 neulgeun hobak) were traditionally used to make porridge (죽 jook), rice cakes (떡 tteok) and kimchi.  In addition to seaweed soup (미역국 meeyoek guk), pumpkin porridge (호박죽 hobak jook) is a must eat food to new mothers because it helps with fluid retention after childbirth. Problem with 늙은 호박 though, is that it’s just way too big for today’s smaller family. And the very hard skin makes cutting really difficult. For those reasons,  the smaller Kabocha squash is perfect because it has similar nutritional benefits but is much easier to handle and smaller in size.

NUTRITION: Danhobak is high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and low in calories. The high beta-carotene content makes it a great food for the eyes. But in Korea, everyone knows that it has been used for generations to help with postpartum edema or fluid retention and also considered a great healing food for colds.

 

Servings: 5                  Cooking Time: 20 min                       Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (455 g) Korean Danhobak (단호박) aka Kabocha Squash
  • 2~3 T mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 T dried raisins
  • 1 T pumpkin seeds
  • 1~2 tsp honey
  • 1 ~ 1 1/4 tsp dijon mustard

Directions

  1. For a good size danhobak, half weighs about 1 lb. Clean and cut squash into slices:
    Cut half of Korean Danhobak(단호박) or Kabocha Squash
    Cut half of Korean Danhobak(단호박) or Kabocha Squash

    Remove the seeds with a spoon:

    Remove seeds from Danhobak/Squash
    Remove seeds from Danhobak/Squash

    Cut squash into about 1.5 inch thick slices for quicker cooking.

    Cut 1/2 squash into smaller slices for steaming
    Cut 1/2 squash into smaller slices for steaming
  2. Steam the squash slices for 15 min or so until the thickest parts are easily pierced with a fork.

    Squash slices in steamer
    Squash slices in steamer
  3. Cut the green skin off the cooked squash. Cut squash into smaller pieces and put in a bowl. Mash squash like making mashed potato. I didn’t have a potato masher so I just used a whisk. Don’t kill yourself trying to mash it completely – leave some small chunks to give the salad more texture.

    Mashing cooked squash for salad
    Mashing cooked squash for salad
  4. To the mashed squash, add 2T mayonnaise, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp honey. Mix it all well. Taste and adjust by adding more mayo for creamier taste, more mustard for more zing and more honey if you like things sweet. Finally add raisins and pumpkin seeds.
  5. Serve the salad chilled. The salad goes great with many Korean dishes – especially hot and spicy or meaty dishes. Kids will also love the slightly sweet and creamy salad. Enjoy!

 

Korean Kabocha Squash (단호박 Danhobak) Salad
Korean Kabocha Squash (단호박 Danhobak) Salad

 

 

 

Crispy Potato Pancakes (감자전 Gamjajeon)

Korean potato pancakes (감자전 Gamjajeon)
Korean potato pancakes (감자전 Gamjajeon)
Korean potato pancakes (감자전 Gamjajeon)

What do you do when life gives you too many ugly potatoes? You make potato pancakes!

Back in June, in my Life in Korea – Farming Anyone? post, I wrote that I was planting colored potatoes in my farm. Well..we harvested them in late July. And I have been busy selling them the last 2 months. I have already sold most of it but I had a lot of oddly shaped ugly potatoes left -not fit for sale but totally fine for eating. And then an old college friend came up with the idea of making Gamjajeon(감자전) and selling them at our Ewha University Alumni Baazar event. It was a perfect way to get rid of these excess potatoes, to help raise money for school and also for another alumni friend with cancer.

The morning started out with buckets of rain but it got light just enough for students to come out and buy our yummy crispy potato pancakes – freshly made on the spot. People said that the piping hot pancakes were a perfect thing to have on a rainy, cool day. It was such a success that we were making these non stop with people constantly waiting. It was actually a bit stressful because we couldn’t make them fast enough but we had a blast making them! Even though I have not seen some friends for 20+ years, spending the day together made it as if I had never left.

Now back to gamjajeon -the most delicious (and actually my first) gamjajeon I had was during our family trip to the Seorak Mountains. It was when I was in high school. My dad, mom, brother and I were hiking up the seorak mountain and on our way, we found these little shacks near mountain streams, wherever they was a flat ledge that was big enough to hold them. Perhaps it was the mountain air, or perhaps it was because I was really hungry but I still can’t forget how good the gamjajeon was. Slightly crispy on the outside and full of potato goodness inside.

I used colored potatoes here but you can simply substitute other potatoes. Best potatoes for Korean potato pancake (gamjajeon) are starchy potatoes like regular russet. You can use waxy potatoes but you probably will need to add more flour to keep it together and may not be as crispy.

 

 

Servings: 4                                Prep Time: 20 min                       Difficulty: Moderate

Cooking Time: 4-5 min for each pancake (recipe makes about 6 six-inch pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb potatoes (starchy) – I used a mix of red and purple potatoes here
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 T flour (adjust based on how wet your potatoes are)
  • vegetable oil for pan frying

Directions

  1. Wash potatoes. Peel if the skin is thick like russet but you can leave the skin on if it’s thin enough.
  2. Cut potatoes into smaller pieces.
    cut colored potatoes for gamjajeon
    cut colored potatoes for gamjajeon (mix of red and purple)

    Originally, Koreans used graters to finely grate the potato but chopper is easier and works just as good.

  3. Cut onions into pieces small enough to fit in the chopper.

    potato and onions in chopper for gamjajeon
    potato and onions in chopper for gamjajeon
  4. Chop onions and potatoes in blender, like so –

    chopped potato in blender for gamjajeon
    chopped potato in blender for gamjajeon
  5. For the following amount of extra potato liquid,
    watery potato and onion mix
    watery potato and onion mix

    I added 3 T of flour. After you add the flour, the consistency should be so that the mix does not run down easily from a spatula.

    gamjajeon (korean potato pancake) mix
    gamjajeon (korean potato pancake) mix

    Add more flour if needed. If the gamjajeon falls apart too easily while cooking.

  6. Heat about 2 T of oil in frying pan on med high heat.
    • Using sufficient amount of oil is key to making a good gamjajeon so don’t skimp on oil. Gamjajeon will also stick easily to the pan if there isn’t enough oil.
    • Heat oil until it swirls around in the pan like water.
  7. Ladle the potato mix onto the hot pan. Spread out evenly to about 1/3 in thickness. One full ladle should make one 6 inch pancake.

    Gamjajeon frying in pan
    Gamjajeon frying in pan
  8. Lower heat to medium and fry for 2 minutes or so. Check doneness by lifting up the side slightly to see how brown it is. When it is THIS brown, turn it over!!

    Gamjajeon browned in pan
    Gamjajeon browned in pan
  9. Fry the other side for another 2 minutes until done.

And there you go~ Serve with some yangnyum jang(양념장) for jeon (see my post for yangnyum jang)  or chokanjang (초간장) and it is a great snack or banchan for kids and adults alike! It is also a great appetizer for Korean rice wine (막걸리 Maakeoli), so go ahead try it!

Variations

  • For more zing, add some chopped green chili peppers to the mix or to the yangnyum jang.
  • The colored potatoes can be eaten raw so I added them on top (as in the picture) as garnish and it was a fabulous combination because it added a crunchy texture.
Crispy Potato Pancakes - Korean Style
Crispy Potato Pancakes – Korean Style
  • DO NOT turn over the pancake prematurely, before it is fully browned – it’s the number one reason why it will fall apart.
  • Loosen the pancake from the pan before you turn over, by loosening it slightly all around and then shaking the pan until the pancake starts sliding around.

Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

Korean Sweet and Salty Soybeans
Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)
Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

 

Kongjaban was my all time favorite lunchbox banchan (side dish) when I was a kid. My most happy lunchbox(도시락 doshirak) always included at least 2 of the following: Kongjaban, Sauteed string potatoesJangjorim, Oeji (pickled cucumbers) and  Gim (roasted sea laver). My school day mornings passed by more quickly and happily when I knew I had these in my lunchbox… :)

Usually, kids don’t like beans very much. I certainly remember not liking any kind of beans mixed in my rice when I was little. I never liked the mushy texture of cooked beans and also the fact that it kind of had no flavor. But the balance of sweetness and saltiness (you know that ‘sweet and salty’ is one of my favorite flavor combination, right?) and the not-mushy texture of this Kongjaban made it all different.

If done right, these Sweet and Salty Soybeans (Kongjaban 콩자반) can be so delicious. Sadly, there are too many not-so-good Kongjabans served at restaurants or sold at markets that give this dish a bad name. PLEASE  believe me – that’s not how the dish is supposed to taste. The soybeans are usually too soft and mushy or too hard and the sauce is so bland that it basically tastes like nothing.. Sad sad sad..I bought one or two ready made, packaged Kongjaban and also one from a banchan corner at the Korean market and as I expected, quite flavorless…

Try making these soybeans at home for yourself and see how you like them.

Anyways, let’s get started –

 

 

Servings: 8-10                 Prep Time: 5-6 hrs              Cooking Time: 1 hr                 Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 C soaked  or 3/4 C dry black soy beans (서리태 Seoritae)
  • 3 C or more water
  • 5 T soy sauce (jinkanjang 진간장)
  • 4 T sugar
  • 2 C liquid from soaked beans
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or rice malt syrup

Directions

  1. Soak the dry soybeans in 2 C of water 5~6 hrs or overnight. The soaking time can vary depending on the temperature. Warmer temps require less time (3~4 hrs) and colder temps require more (8~12 hrs).
    soaked black soy beans
    soaked black soy beans

    FYI, here’s a close up of dry vs soaked black soy beans:

    dry vs soaked black soy beans
    dry vs soaked black soy beans
  2. Drain the liquid from the soaked soybeans and add to pot with 3 1/2 C of water. Bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower heat to medium and cook UNCOVERED for approx 12 minutes until the beans are fully cooked. Soybeans should be soft but still slightly crunchy and not mushy.
  3. Drain the cooked soybeans while reserving the cooking liquid.
  4. In a pot, add 2 C of the cooking liquid + soy sauce + sugar and bring to boil over med-high heat.
  5. Add the soybeans to the boiling soy sauce liquid and lower heat once it starts to boil like below. Simmer for 25 min, stirring often. Lower the heat if you find that the liquid is reducing too quickly.

    kongjaban boiling in pot
    kongjaban boiling in pot
  6. Add maple syrup to add shine and additional sweetness. Cook for another 20 min (stir often) or so until the sauce is reduced and the color has turned dark brown like below:
    cooked kongjaban in pot
    finished kongjaban in pot

    And so there you go! It’s pretty simple, no? Let it cool and store in a container at room temperature for 2-3 days or in your fridge for many days. Serve at room temp or can be eaten cold out of the fridge. Enjoy it with some plain rice or as a side dish to go with other spicy dishes. As I said, it makes a great side dish in kid’s lunchboxes!

    Sweet and Salty soy beans
    Korean Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

Common Problems and Tips

  • The most frequent problems in making Kongjaban is that the beans come out too hard.
    • This is due mainly for 3 reasons:
    1. beans are not fully soaked
    2. beans are not fully cooked before seasoning is added
    3. beans are cooked in soy sauce+sugar too quickly at high heat
  • Substitute regular white soy beans, mung beans, peanuts instead of black soy beans.
  • For extra flavorful sauce, add one or more of the following: ginger, green onion, dried red chili, whole garlic clove, or onion.

Rice Cake Stir Fry with Soy Sauce (궁중떡볶이 Goongjoong Ddukbokki/Tteokbokki)

royal ddukbokki (궁중떡뽁이 Goongjoong Ddukbokki)
royal ddukbokki (궁중떡뽁이 Goongjoong Ddukbokki)
royal ddukbokki (궁중떡볶이 Goongjoong Ddukbokki)

Did you know that this non spicy Rice Cake Stir Fry with Soy Sauce (궁중떡볶이 Goongjoong Ddukbokki/tteokbokki) has been around much longer than the more common red spicy version?  The name Goongjoong/gungjung/Kungjung/Koongjoong means royal court and so you can guess where this dish comes from. The Korean Royal Cuisine (궁중요리 Goongjoong Yori) as we know today are recipes passed down through generations of King’s chefs during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and only became available to everyone after the fall of the dynasty. There are separate cooking schools dedicated to teaching this cuisine but as you can imagine, it’s really not your everyday food..

In contrast, the prevalent story for the very popular spicy rice cake (ddukbokki/tteokbokki) is that it only came to existence in the 1950’s in the 신당동 (shindangdong) part of Seoul. Since then it probably has become the most popular snack for kids-although recently pizza and hamburgers have started to take over. But certainly when I was a student, there was always a ddukbokki house near every school and we just could not go home without taking a ddukbokki break!

Eating ddukbokki after school…it was sooo good but also soooo spicy sometimes. As much as I loved eating the spicy ddukbokki, I often had hard time with hot spicy foods when I was little. As a kid, I used to wash Baechoo Kimchi in water before I ate it. You would think that washing it with water makes it taste like nothing but it actually had plenty of flavor – still a little bit spicy, slightly sour, definitely salty and then that deep, can’t-really-describe-with-words unique taste of Kimchi. Mostly, this is how most Korean kids get used to eating spicy foods at an early age – by just tasting the watered down version first and then you want more..

Because this dish is salty, savory and slightly sweet, it is a great dish that can balance the spiciness of many Korean dishes. Great for dinner parties and also a great snack for kids since you can sneak in some extra veggies if you want.

 

 

Servings: 2                                  Cooking Time: 25 – 30 min                                Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rice cake for ddukboki
  • marinade sauce for rice cake
    • 1 T soy sauce
    • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/2 lb beef (chuck, sirloin, bottom round) or stew meat, cut into thin strips
  • marinade for beef
  • 4 oz oyster mushrooms (dried or fresh shitake, enoki, king all work well), torn
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 small carrot, sliced
  • 2 green onions or 1/2 Korean leek (대파 Daepa)
  • swirl of honey (optional)
  • swirl of sesame oil (optional)
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Directions

  1. If you have access to fresh rice cake, that’s great. If not, no matter, just defrost frozen rice cakes by soaking in cold water first for 10 min. or more.
  2. Cook rice cakes in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until they are soft all the way through.
  3. Drain. Do not rinse. While it’s still hot, add 1 T soy sauce and 1 T sesame oil. Toss. Set aside.

    marinade dduk in soy sauce and sesame oil
    marinade dduk in soy sauce and sesame oil
  4. Cut beef into thin strips (approx 1/4 in), against the grain. This is probably the most time consuming part of this recipe. EASY TIP: cut bulgogi meat into smaller pieces instead. In Korea, markets sell pre-cut beef strips like so…nice, huh?
    beef cut in strips for Korean cooking
    beef cut in strips for Korean cooking
    • BTW, the label says the beef cut is 설도(seoldoe) which is bottom round or eye of round. It also says it’s 잡채용 (chopchaeyong – for chop chae).
  5. Marinate the beef strips in my apple lemon soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil, honey, garlic mixture and let it sit while you prepare other ingredients.
    marinated beef strips for Korean Ddukbokki
    marinated beef strips for Korean Ddukbokki
    • I used my apple lemon soy sauce but you can substitute it for regular soy sauce and more rice wine. See my bulgogi post for the exact recipe. Also note that the amount of sauce is good for 1 lb of beef which is too much if it was just the meat but I wanted this sauce to season the entire dish and thus the extra sauce.
  6. Cut carrot lengthwise and then into thin slices diagonally so that the size is similar to your dduk piece.

    cut vegetables for Goongjoong Ddukbokki
    cut carrots for Goongjoong Ddukbokki
  7. Tear 0yster mushrooms by hand into smaller pieces.
    tearing oyster mushrooms for ddukbokki
    tearing oyster mushrooms for ddukbokki

    Dried shitake mushrooms are probably the most authentic ingredient but these oyster mushrooms were so fresh looking at the market! King or enoki mushrooms will be good too~

  8. Cut  1/2 of a Korean leek first into 2 in long pieces and then quarter them.
    • Korean leeks are pretty big and long (usually longer than 2 ft and some are even longer than 3 ft! see photo below left – this is a pretty big cutting board) but not as big and not as thick as the ones you see in the US. I know Korean leeks are probably hard to get in places outside of Korea so substitute green onions if you can’t get Korean leeks.

      Korean Leek (대파 Daepa)
      Korean Leek (대파 Daepa)
  9. Cut onions into thin slices. And now you should have a plate full of cut vegetables!

    cut vegetables for ddukbokki
    cut vegetables for ddukbokki
  10. Heat a nice big frying pan on med-high heat. Transfer just the beef (set aside any leftover marinade sauce) into the pan and saute the beef strips for 2-3 minutes.
    sauteing beef
    sauteing beef

    leftover beef marinade
    leftover beef marinade – save it for later!
  11. Saute carrots, onions and mushrooms (except for green onions) with the beef, 2-3 min.

    beef and vegetables
    beef and vegetables
  12. Add rice cakes and stir fry for 5-6 minutes until everything is evenly cooked.

    Goongjoong ddukbokki in pan
    Ddukbokki is almost done!
  13. Taste. For kids snacks, keep the seasoning light and do not add the leftover marinade sauce. For side dishes, add some of the remaining beef marinade sauce for additional seasoning.
  14. Add green onions. For final seasoning, swirl in some honey and sesame oil before serving.
  15. Sprinkle some sesame seeds as garnish.

This rice cake stir fry is a great for parties, pot luck and as snack for kids. So enjoy!

Storage

  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for several days. Dduk becomes hard once it’s stored in the fridge. Reheat it slowly on medium to med-low heat by adding couple T of water and stirring often. Microwaving will reheat faster but dduk will become really hard once it cools so I don’t really recommend it.

Variations

  • Add regular or napa cabbages, fish cake, zucchini for variations.

    Goongjoong Ddukbokki:Tteokbokki
    Goongjoong Ddukbokki/Tteokbokki