While Kate Coffey is settling down Stateside after her big Korean adventure, I wanted to keep up her Freedom Friday column. And since there are no better allergen free recipes than Korean, why not give salute to her homecoming? Many people associate Korean food with barbecue, but Korean home cooking is actually based on rice and assorted vegetable dishes, like blanched wild herbs, fermented sauces, tofu, and of course, kimchi. There are also plenty of options of people who can’t eat soy, gluten, nuts, or other common allergens. The traditional mung bean pancake (nok doo bin dae dduk) is a good example.
Mung beans are easier to digest than many other kinds of beans and are rich in protein, B vitamins, vitamins K, C, E, Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, and mood boosting Magnesium and Zinc. It’s also one of Ayurvedic superfoods that is recommended for all three doshas. Like Mom always said, mung beans are good for you!
Of course, it was Mom who made these pancakes for me growing up. And I still request them when I go home. It’s crispy on the outside, and soft and savory on the inside with assorted vegetable toppings. To eat it you tear pieces off with your chopsticks and dip a steaming chunk into the seasoned soy sauce. You can serve it as appetizer, side dish, late night snack, or as party food, as it was originally intended. Also, there is an old saying that “when it rains, there isn’t anything to do but eat mung bean pancakes.” I never really understood what that ominous, slightly fatalistic proverb means, but rain or no these pancakes are winners.
Korean Mung Bean Pancakes (Nok doo bin dae dduk)
Makes about 8-10 small pancakes (4″ diameter)
about 1 cup dried mung beans, soaked in cold water for at least 6 hours (will be about 3 cups when plump)
2 cups cold water
5 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 stalks scallion, trimmed and cut into 3″ long pieces
1/4 cup reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms (you can also use fresh or defrosted shiitake mushrooms)
1/2 cup kimchi
vegetable oil for frying
1. Using a blender or food processor, blend 3 cups plumped mung beans with about 2 cups water until there are no chunks and it reaches smooth, batter consistency.
2. Add the corn starch and salt to the and mix well.
3. Put a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add a bit of oil and spread it around with a spatula. When the oil starts bubbling slightly, pour about half cup of batter into the pan. Top it with scallions, shiitake, and kimchi, then dot over the toppings with the batter so that they’re partially covered. Cover with a lid and cook for about 4 minutes. Once the bottom is done, flip over and cook the top side, again with the lid covered. It should be done in about 4 minutes or so.
4. Serve immediately with seasoned soy sauce (just add some chopped scallions and sesame seeds).
Tips: Try making one pancake at a time as a practice, then as you get a feel for it, feel free to make 2-3 pancakes at the same time. It’ll be a bit more challenging, but nobody said life is easy!
Also, save any leftover batter in a sealed container. It will keep for at least 2 days.
More Korean food: Vegan Korean dumplings (Mandu)
Freedom Friday: Hearty Autumn Chili
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling