A very kind friend has recently offered me Our Korean Kitchen, a beautifully illustrated home cookery book written by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo, an Irish-Korean couple. It’s not my first Korean cookery book, but in this one everything looks appetising and effortless at the same time, so I couldn’t wait more than one day to put it into practice. A mung bean-based pancake batter sounded particularly intriguing, quite different from all the Korean dishes I know and I happened to have every single ingredient, so the choice was easy. The pancake was rich and filling, but didn’t feel heavy at all and I loved the idea of a healthier, not wheat flour- but bean-based pancake. It might not look very exciting, but I promise it was absolutely delicious!
As usually, I have slightly modified the recipe (e.g. used a mixture of pork & beef I prefer instead of beef alone or adding baking powder), so check the original recipe in Our Korean Kitchen which is a fantastic source to have a peek into easy and delicious Korean home cooking.
TIPS: Dried mung beans are small, have a green khaki colour and are slightly oval in shape. They can be found now in many “normal” supermarkets, but you can look for them in organic or Asian shops, and of course, online.
The cooking process is really easy, though you have to plan the pancake a day ahead (the beans must be soaked overnight) or at least in the morning, if you want to have the pancake for the dinner. The only tricky part is frying this thick pancake without burning it and without leaving it raw inside (especially if you use pork or chicken). I did it on low heat with a cover on so that the top of the pancake cooked a bit too before the flipping over.
The baking powder is my own idea because I believe it makes such a filling pancake a bit fluffier (it does the same to the Japanese okonomiyaki). You can skip it of course.
The whole batter (apart from the meat) can be made ahead and wait one or two days in the fridge before the addition of meat and frying process.
The recipe calls for chopped kimchi (preferably from an old batch), but if you don’t have it, you can add some Korean medium-hot powdered chilli, an additional crushed garlic clove and an equal amount of a chopped cucumber, courgette or bok choy. It won’t really be a substitution, but it will lighten the pancake and add some spicy kick to it.
Even though this recipe calls for minced meat, I can easily imagine other proteins such as shrimp, mushrooms or cheese… and why not some vegetables ?
Preparation: about 40 minutes+overnight (beans soaking time)
Ingredients (serves two if eaten with several kinds of pickles and/or a green salad):
150g/about 5.3 oz mung beans
100g/3.5 oz Chinese cabbage kimchi (at least several weeks old) + 2 tablespoons kimchi juice
50 g-60g/about 1.7-2.1 oz minced meat (I have used pork and beef, but you can use any meat of your choice) mixed with 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
several tablespoons of spring onion leaves, chopped + some more to sprinkle on top before serving
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or less if you use normal soy sauce)
1 cm/0.4 in grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour or wheat flour
1 flat teaspoon baking powder
(sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds or Japanese garlic and chilli oil)
Soak the beans overnight.
Drain them and mix in a food processor with the kimchi juice, adding some water (about 50 – 70 ml) until you obtain a thick batter. (My batter was quite smooth, but it had still some bits of mung beans and I liked it a lot).
Combine with the remaining ingredients (apart from the sesame oil or taberu rayu, if using).
Heat some oil in a pan and spread a 1.5cm – 2 cm layer of batter (you might need to adapt the pan’s size, but don’t make the pancake too thin, 1.5 cm is a minimum; I have used the smallest pan I have).
Cover the pan and fry the pancake at low heat until it becomes golden brown at the bottom. It took me about ten minutes.
Flip the pancake over and increase the heat to medium.
Fry the second side for about 5 minutes (check with a fork if the batter is fully cooked, especially the meat).
Repeat the frying process with the remaining batter.
Serve cut up into pieces (if eating with chopsticks), with some green onion, sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds on top. I thought it was fantastic with some Japanese garlic and chilli oil (taberu rayu).