Sunday, May 11, 2008

my first chijimi - korean pancake

Wanted this to be a Mother's Day post, or rather a suggestion on how you can surprise your mum with some simple home-cooked meal. But got too a little carried away catching up on Japanese and The Apparentice Season 6 (yes, broadband can be too pampering at times, how can I go back to dial-up again??). So anyways, this is what I made yesterday, one of my very few Saturdays where I get to chill out and do stuff I like.

There were some leftover chijimi powder from last weekend's slumber party which I didn't want to waste. Now that I think of it, since it's basically savoury pancake perhaps you can use normal flour as well. But I can't read the kanji for flour don't know what kind of flour they have here so I might try it out some time later.

I know this is not a proper recipe, but I really don't know how much flour that is. But add enough water, to get a consistency of full cream milk. Slightly thicker would be good, depending on how crispy you want your pancake to be. Last week the mixture was like gravy, and the pancake turned out to be quite heavy, which is fine. This week I overestimated decided to have a lighter texture.

So anyways, make sure you mix the flour and water well so that you don't have any lumpy stuff in it. Add a little salt to taste. Some chijimi mix may already have some flavouring in it, but in any case, there will be a sauce dip which will add to the flavour. That will come after this.

Cut some leek into 1-inch length sizes. I usually don't eat leek. In fact, this amount you see here is probably more than my annual consumption of leek. I was quite aghast at seeing Hyun use so much leek last week that I thought I'd never eat that pancake, but realised it not only added flavour but colour to the pancake as well. So I cut about 3 stalks of leek there. And yes, when you're overseas you tend to learn to eat things you usually don't eat.

Cut onions into inch-sized cubes. I think other than leek, onion is also another widely used ingredient in Korean and Japanese dishes. Personally I don't think there is much nutritional value in these 2 vegetable and I've always regarded them as decoration or flavour enhancers. Being lazy Not having the luxury of time to cook extravagant dishes, I hardly use them unless I decide to be creative.

Put chopped leek and onion into batter. I find that it's better to not have the mixture too diluted in the beginning as somehow the onion gives out water and reduces the thickness of the batter. It's easier to add water later if somehow it's too thick, but if you run out of flour, there's very little you can do to save your pancake!

For the seafood, we used clams and squid last week, but I personally love prawns so I bought a whole pack of them. Cut them into inch-wide pieces. Don't add into the mixture. Rather, heat up the non-stick pan and pour in about 4-5 tablespoons of oil. Yes, this is not a healthy dish, I've never used so much oil in any of my dishes here before. I don't cook Malaysian dishes, remember?

Pour the batter mixture onto the pan, making sure it is evenly spread out. After about 5 minutes, place the prawn pieces on top of the mixture. Make sure it's on medium fire. For thicker pancakes, this will cook pretty fast. But for mine, it didn't thicken as fast coz it was quite diluted.

Since I was impatient hungry, I tried to flip it, it broke! I was almost sure it would be a disaster of a dish :( Instead of having one nice flat roundish pancake, it became many funny-shaped pieces of pancakes. I was quite disappointed that it wasn't as thick as it was supposed to be, so I tried to fix it by leaving it on longer.

While waiting for the pancake to cook, make the dip. Pour some soy sauce into a dip bowl, add remaining leek and onions. And, togarashi, Korean chilli flakes. If you can't get that, you might want to go with freshly chopped red chillies to give it that spicy oomph. But I can't guarantee that it will taste the same though!

After my 1st batch was done, I couldn't wait, so decided to dip it into the sauce. Oh my, I must say it wasn't that bad. In fact, having it thinner was probably much better since I could taste the other ingredients compared to just the pancake. Since my housemate Danny was also in the kitchen, I asked him to test it out. He said he preferred it to last week's version. Haha! Yatta!

So anyways, while eating, I cooked the 2nd batch. This time having learnt from my lesson, I decided to let the pancake cook a little longer before trying to flip it. True enough, it retained its roundish shape, and since the texture was thinner, it came out quite crispy in the end. Too bad I only had so little leftover flour. I was getting better and craving for more chijimi!

Looking at the end result, I now appreciated the humble leek and onion. They certainly make the chijimi what it is. Make sure you have fresh prawns too, there is nothing worse than eating fried stale prawns mixed with fresh leek and onion. Since this is such a simple dish, anyone can make it. You can even make it for breakfast. It's not too late to surprise your mum with a Korean dish which is both delicious and nutritional. Well, quite!

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