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!