Friday, July 25, 2014

Bulgogi-style Chicken and Kimchi Pancakes

Long, long ago, I had my first taste of Korean food. My Dad, who is usually up for anything, decided that we needed to try the new Korean restaurant in Towson. Sadly, my young palate was not ready for the bold combination of spicy and sweet plus garlic, and I swore it off for many years. After I moved to Towson, well into my adult years, I thought I'd give Korean food another try. And what do you know--I loved it.

Mr Minx and I soon became regulars at that Towson Korean restaurant. Until it closed. A sad day.

Sometimes we venture out to a Korean restaurant in Ellicott City (like Honey Pig), but mostly we make Korean food at home. It's not difficult, and the results are super flavorful. And it helps that gochujang paste can be found in some supermarkets (those that carry Annie Chung products), as can kimchi (in the refrigerated produce section; Giant has it). Otherwise, there are plenty of Asian supermarkets in the Baltimore area (H Mart, Lotte, Great Wall) that have the ingredients you'll need.

Typically bulgogi is made with beef, but one can occasionally find it made with chicken. That's what I had in the freezer, so that's what I used. And I just happened to have a jar of kimchi in the fridge! Kimchi, even the Americanized stuff, is highly seasoned. However, don't skip the salt in the pancakes because you think the kimchi is salty enough. The rest of the ingredients are bland, so you'll need the extra seasoning to take care of the veggies and the batter. When I say "bland," I don't mean "not spicy." Even mild kimchi is quite hot, and so is the gochujang. If you're not into a lot of heat, skip the gochugaru in the bulgogi.

Bulgogi-style Chicken and Kimchi Pancakes

For the chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons gochujang
1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3 scallions, chopped

For the pancakes:
1 cup cabbage kimchi
1 cup chopped or julienned vegetables of your choice (I used thin asparagus but you can use carrot, regular cabbage, broccoli)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 scallions, finely chopped
Vegetable oil for frying

For the chicken: Slice the chicken into strips, removing any excess fat.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat in the marinade. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

For the pancakes: Pour the juice off the kimchi and reserve. Add enough water to the juice to equal one cup. Finely chop the kimchi.

Combine the flours, salt, egg, and juice-water mixture in a large bowl. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before adding the chopped kimchi, veg, and scallions.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. When oil is hot, add about 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake to the pan. Spread batter with a spoon to get approximately 5" circles. Cook until bottoms are crispy, then flip and cook other side, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Serves 2-3 with pancakes left over

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