July 15, 2014

Korean Pancakes a.k.a Hotteok

Welcome back! Today is sort of a continuation to the last post. If you can recall, I talked about the cooking show Korean Food Made Simple. In the show, I saw something that looked delicious and fun to make. Since Korean food has been a passion of mine as of late, this seemed like a prime opportunity to try something new. So sit back and prepare yourself for the awesomeness that is Hotteok!

The picture directly above is the finished product from Chef Judy Joo. The top picture is mine. I think I did a pretty good job. I didn't have any fancy little wrappers, but it still worked.

Before we get to the process, let me explain how these pancakes differ from traditional American pancakes. Aside from what you see in the pictures above, like the size and some sort of filling, the biggest difference is the use of yeast. That's right, these little hot cakes are leavened with yeast instead of baking powder or baking soda. With that said, you must now take into account that you are going to have to plan ahead if you want to make this.

I know the idea of using yeast can scare the shit out of a lot of people. All I can tell you is that you really shouldn't be afraid of it, especially with this recipe. You don't have tons of kneading to worry about with this. It is still a batter, just with a bit more body to it. You will see this to be true as we delve into the process of making this wonderful dish.

1 1/2 cups (360 milliliters) whole milk
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 packet (7 grams/0.25 ounces) instant dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1 1/2 cups (225 grams) strong orbread flour, plus additional for dusting*
1 cup (150 grams) sweet glutinousrice flour**
4 1/2 teaspoons (20 grams) corn flour or corn starch

1/2 cup (125 grams) muscovado sugar, firmly packed***
1/2 cup (75 grams) peanuts, crushed roughly****
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt

*When I made this, I used all purpose flour. I don't normally keep bread flour on hand and, at the time, was too lazy to go to the store.

**You might have to go to an Asian market to find this. In fact, you SHOULD go to an Asian market to find it. You will probably pay twice as much finding it elsewhere. I got this bag for $1.

***I used dark brown sugar in place of muscovado.
****I used cashews for mine. I like peanuts, but I like cashews better.

When you have all the ingredients ready, it's time to begin. First things first, you need to bloom the yeast. In a small bowl, add the warmed milk, yeast and sugar. Give it a quick stir and let sit for 4 to 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, stir together your salt, flours and corn starch. When the yeast is ready, pour the milk mix into the dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon. until you get a "goopy" mix.

When mixing, I had to add a few more ounces of milk to get the consistency right.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size. This should take about an hour. Once it has risen, punch out the gas, cover, and let it rise until double.

While your dough is rising, go ahead and make the filling. The filling is very simple. Just chop up your shell nuts and stir them into the sugar, salt and cinnamon mixture.

After the second rise, it's time to work with the batter/dough. Punch down the mix one more time. Get some of the flour(bread or all purpose) and lightly cover the dough and cutting board with it. With a floured hand, drop the dough onto the board and sprinkle with a little more flour. I know it seems like a lot of flouring, but you don't want this stuff to stick.

Roll the dough into one single log. Cut the log in half. Then, cut each half into 5 pieces.

Now, here comes the fun part. Filling them. On the show, you see a street vendor filling them while she is holding the dough in her hand. I tried that:

What happened was the damn thing stuck to my hand so bad, I totally fucked it up and ended up throwing it on the ground in frustration. What I did after that was simply pressing them into circles on the cutting board and spooning in the filling like that. I then sealed up the dough into a nice little ball and set them on a tray sealed side down.

Now it's time to get frying. I added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of vegetable oil to the pan and had the fire at med/high. Once the pan is hot, add 3 of the dough balls.

Once in the pan, use a spatula to flatten out the dough balls.

After a few minutes, turn over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. My first batch got a little too toasty, While I don't like showing pics of my fucking up, we can also learn from these mistakes.

You can see the difference. In the end, they still tasted good. Just be sure to make sure your fire isn't too hot.

After they cool down some, it's time to eat!

I cut this one in half to show you how the inside looks. The sugar melts and gets all gooey and yummy.

If you think they look good, you really need to try this, because they taste even better than you think! They have a little bit of crunch to it, but are super soft on the inside. The filling is sweet and rich, with added chew from the cashews. Anyone who likes traditional pancakes is sure to be a fan of these.

In the bottom picture, I added a small bit of maple syrup over the top. While it was good with the syrup, I found it to be unnecessary.

I don't expect everyone to run out and try this. In the end, I hope that maybe you will look at using yeast a little differently. Maybe it isn't so scary. Maybe it's just another ingredient you have yet to become friends with.

Until next time, my friends!

I'm out!

June 25, 2014

Cooking Show Review: Korean Food Made Simple

Welcome back to a new edition of your favorite now-and-then blog. What I have for you today is kind of a two-part thing, but I will get to that later. In the meantime, let me introduce to what I consider to be the best instructional cooking show on The Food Network and Cooking Channel combined. Say hello to Korean Food Made Simple.

Without going through Wikipedia, let me give you a short background on the host, Chef Judy Joo. If she looks familiar, that's because it isn't difficult to see her on the cooking channels. She has appeared as a judge on Iron Chef America, Next Iron Chef and a few other shows. More importantly than judging, she is an Iron Chef herself for the UK version of the show. There is much more to this woman, but I think that will give you an idea of who she is.

While the show is about cooking and recipes, it is also has a bit of travel to it as well. In each episode, you get to see a part of South Korea. Sometimes it's a well known tourist spot, sometimes it's a place only the locals know about. Along the way, you might get a small history of the dish she is going to prepare next. It all kind of ties in together.

When it comes time to cook, she knows how to throw down with the best of them. Everything is explained well, along with substitution ideas in case you can't find a certain ingredient.

One thing that caught my eye was the presentation of each dish. She is a chef. Hell, she is a fucking IRON CHEF! So you know everything is gonna have a smooth, clean plate up.

I know some of you might be thinking that Korean or Asian food is difficult to make. Well, first off, the name of the show has SIMPLE in it! Once you can get past the title, you will see that everything she is making is very straight forward. Yes, you may have to purchase a few new ingredients to stock your pantry with, but it will be well worth it.

As for me, I have a new found love for Korean food and cooking techniques. It started a little before Korean Food Made Simple first aired. Once I started watching the show, I was hooked. I've made a few Korean dishes myself, and each one I have enjoyed immensely. One of the dishes I made was actually from the show.

Let me tell you, those pancakes were....well, I don't want to spoil the next blog post for you!

That's it for this one. You can watch Korean Food Made Simple on the Cooking Channel on Saturday mornings. Take my advice and check this show out!

May 20, 2014

Afters Ice Cream

Welcome back! I'm glad you could stop by for another wonderful post. What I have for you wasn't really intended to be a blog post, but it kind of worked out that way. In the end, it was a bunch of coworkers having a good time and enjoying good food and good company. Before we get that far, let me fill you in on how a bunch of pastry chefs hit the streets in search of ice cream.

As a chef, it can be easy to get jaded when it comes to food. After a while, nothing seems to pique the interest unless it is bizarre or pushing the boundaries between food and pornography. And just when you think you have heard all the bullshit and all the so-called foodporn, you hear about something that sounds....good. You hear about something that may not even be original, in a sense, but presented in a way that drives your curiosity and genitals wild! For me, it was two words that caught my attention: Milky Buns

If you know me, you can probably guess that my first thoughts after hearing the words Milky Buns were perverted. Milky buns, to me, equated to white ass cheeks. Hey, that doesn't sound bad at all! Sadly, ass cheeks wasn't on the menu. What was on the menu was a glazed donut that is cut in half and filled with a scoop of ice cream and whatever topping that you want to go with it. I'll give you a moment to pick your jaw up from the floor.

At some point, a bunch of my coworkers decided to hit this place up one night after work. I was lucky enough to have been invited. PLUS, it was a bunch of females and I was the only guy there. GIGGITY!

Upon arriving, I saw a long line of people stretching outside the shop. Seeing that this was about 9:30 at night, I'd say that was a good sign.

My good friend Aimee Lynn was the one that found this place. I've mentioned her on this blog before, and she is one of the first people I talk to when it comes to food. She had been there before and had a few recommendations on what to order. I decided to go with the cereal milk ice cream with corn flakes as a topping. If you are wondering what cereal milk is, let me try and break this down as quickly as I can.

Cereal milk is made by pouring cold milk over your favorite cereal and letting it sit for a little while. Then, you strain out the cereal and place the milk back in the fridge. The milk has now taken on some of the flavor and sweetness of the cereal. The Momofuku Milk Bar was the first place I had heard of really using this technique to instill more flavor in their desserts.

After a 15 to 20 minute wait in line, we got our milky buns and scoops of ice cream. We sat down and talked about....everything. Food, work, rumors, Ouija boards, Iowa, and everything in between.

While the pics aren't the greatest, you can see what is going on. The top is mine. The bottom is what my lovely lady got. She ordered the Cookie Monster ice cream. It was blue and had all kinds of shit going on with it.

My ladies ice cream was everything it should have been with a name like that. Bright, sweet, crunchy, and fruity. Mine was on the more subtle side. Milky flavor with an undertone of the cereal in every bite. The corn flakes added a nice touch, but I think I will try it with cap n' crunch next time.

The donut itself was good. You could tell it was very fresh and wasn't oily. A well made donut.

While this was a tasty treat, it really needs to be just that: A treat. Mixing these two items will give you a fat ass and a bad heart in no time! Honestly, I could only indulge in something like this once every blue moon.

Aside from the food, it was just really cool to hang out with some of the work buddies away from the slave ship. To be able to just kick back and relax with the people you just went through a long, arduous shift with is a priceless thing.

These two lovely ladies are Hannah and Alexis. Hannah is the one who introduced me to Zankou Chicken. Alexis is a bit of a Star Wars fanatic who somehow got stressed out watching the latest Godzilla movie. Oh yeah, Alexis also rocks in the kitchen and trains a lot of the new hires.

This is Victoria. She is from Montana. Wait, I think she is from Idaho. No, that's not right either. Oh, I got it! She's from IOWA!!! I only say that because it was a running joke that no one could ever remember she was from Iowa. They would say every other state BUT Iowa!

Victoria, without a doubt, got the best picture of the night. Plus, this woman brings such a wonderful, exciting and positive energy to the kitchen. While there may be some really miserable sons of bitches running around the kitchen, her presence can quickly turn a frown into a smile. In my opinion, every job needs at least 1 Victoria.

These were the only pictures I got. So let me give a shout out to Kaycie, Nicole, Sam, Aimee, Jaclynn, and my lovely lady Becky. Together, we made a night I won't soon forget.

Oh yeah, try Afters when you get a chance. ;-)

18030 Brookhurst St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

I'm out.