Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cabbage Pancakes

Hello there!!!!
Have I gone too long?
I am so sorry that it took so long to be back, but boy! what a summer I had...

First of all, I traveled to Korea to visit my hometown.
Then, my family had to cross the pacific ocean again to relocate onto a tropical land in SE Asia. Where? well, I will let you know in my next post.

It always takes some time to settle into a new place no matter where you go. I finally was able to put my family onto a routine so that I can come back to blogging.

So here I am..., introducing a simple dish to start.
But before I start the tutorial of these gorgeous cabbage pancakes, I would like to introduce my lovely hometown, Tong-Young city, of South Korea.

 Beautiful, isn't it?

I used to walk along this road everyday to go to school. 
It has changed so much since I left some 20+ years ago.

 Fishing is the major industry in this town.

 Some random kiddos goofing around 6am in the morning on Nam-mang hill park.

Painted walls in Dongpirang hill. Every house has whimsical paintings on their walls.

The same random kids who were following me every where I go...

 Do you speak Korean? Try to read this! So funny!
Such a strong southern Korean accent, they had to put translation on the bottom. Of course I understand the whole thing. In fact I used to talk like that.

 This angel looks just like my daughter...

 The front door of my house...  Just kidding.
It's the entrance of the memorial house of Admiral Lee; the most respected general in Korean history.

 That's him!
5 seconds of Korean history; If England has Admiral Lord Nelson who brought victory from the battle of Trafalgar, Admiral lee and his world's 1st iron boat saved Korea from the Japanese invasion in 16th century. The winning battle happened in the ocean near my hometown.

 Traditional Korean architectural details.

 I love Korean doors.

 The bamboo and the cascading walls remind me of the back yard of my grandparent's house.

 The colors of Korea...  We call it Dan-Cheong.

The famous seafood market in the city.

The most famous seafood out of all from Tong-Young is these dried anchovies. 

Cleaning the fish for her customer, she tried to wink at me as I taking her photo. 
People are humorous and sweet in the south...

A lady ripping out the skin of eels. My kids freaked out about this.

Love their visors.

This is one of the best fish stew I ever had in my life. One of my mother's friends runs seafood restaurant and this is the dish she served. I finished 2 bowls of rice with this stew. Soooo good!

This is the fish in the stew, called "Galchi".
You can tell it is from Korean ocean judging from the shine of their fish scale.

 My mother carrying some dried sea products. Of course they are all for me.
Why is she holding an umbrella in sunny day? That is her secret to maintain the beautiful skin.

 Another famous thing in Tong-young is the handcrafted furniture.
This man is a master artist in Korean handicraft. He uses Avalon shells to create beautiful furniture pieces. He kindly welcomed our visit to his studio and taught my kids about his work.

 My kids learned how to inlay the Avalon thread into motif.

The master himself was working on his project, the jewelry box.
I asked him how much the jewelry box he is working on. He looked at me and said, "I don't think you can afford it". I told him that I will decide whether I can afford it or not. He smiled and saying, " This will sell for US$5,000".
I told him immediately that I can't afford it.

This twin chest will run up to $100,000.
It will take the artisan one year to complete.

 Another famous handicraft of Tong-Young is these quilted bags. They run from $30-150.

 This is Tong-Young style Kimbap. I can eat this every day.
Plain rice wrapped with dried seaweed and served with spicy squid, fish cakes, and radish kimchee.
A must-eat when you visit Tong-Young.

 A boat ride to nearby islands. My kids sharing their shrimp crackers with seagulls.

 There are so many tiny islands nearby and they all have a beautiful scenery. This one has a lighthouse on the top.

So how do you think? Would you like to visit Tong-Young next time you go to Korea?
I should get a job with Korea tourism board... ha ha!


Now coming back to my recipe...
This recipe (it is too easy to call it a recipe though) is originated from southern province of Korea.
The sweet mellow flavor of cabbage leaves gets coated with batter and pan fry them. A wonderful snack or lunch on a rainy day for me.

All you need is cabbage and some flour. 
Look for small yellowish cabbage hearts instead of huge green bulky ones (those are for Kimchee).

My humble beginning of this recipe is; cabbage, Korean deep fry flour*, plain flour, Korean soy sauce, sesame oil.

*Korean deep fry flour is basically seasoned flour mix for deep fry batter. This will make the pancakes quite crisp to bite on. If you can't find this, substitute with cake flour mixed with baking powder, onion powder, and salt.

Cut cabbage leaves from its base. If your leaf curls up like mine...

Just tap the white stem part with back of you knife until it gets flat.

Now she is as flat as pancakes. Well, she will become a pancake if not...

In a shallow bowl (I used a pie dish), mix flours and some water...

The batter will be runny like crepe batter.

This is Korean soy sauce (for soups). It is DIFFERENT than regular soy sauce.

It is more translucent and salty, almost like fish sauce, but there is no fish involved in the sauce.
(If you are serious about Korean cooking, you better get this soy sauce because I am using this sauce quite often.)
Add a little bit to the batter.

Add a drop of sesame oil.

Whisk everyone well in the batter...

Heat up the pan and add some oil. I like to use brush when I make Korean pancakes.

First coat cabbage leaf with a little bit of flour.

And coat with the batter, drizzle out extra.

Place on the pan and don't bother her for the next 3-5 minutes.
Adjust the heat so it doesn't burn her. Medium heat is alright for me.

Flip and fry the other side of her. You will see the nice golden crust on her appearance.

If the pan seems to be dry, just drizzle a little more oil  around the edge.

She will taste divine the way she is now, but if you must have a dipping sauce with her...

Chop some green onion and chilies and mix with regular soy sauce (preferably low sodium), rice vinegar, and a little water.

You might think it is just plain boring pancakes made out cabbage,
but these are surprisingly good.
Do not underestimate the cabbage power...
It is good for you.

Cabbage Pancakes
10 napa cabbage leaves
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup Korean deep fry batter flour (Tuigim garu)*
1 cup water
2 tsp Korean soy sauce for soup
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup flour for coating
some canola or grape seed oil for frying

Dipping Sauce:
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp water
1 green onion minced
1/2 fresh chili minced

* Tuigim garu: 1 cup cake flour + 1/4 tsp baking powder + 1/4 tsp onion powder + pinch salt

Flatten the cabbage leaves with back of you knife by tapping on the white stem part. Set aside.
In a shallow bowl (such as a pie dish), mix flours, water, soy sauce and sesame oil. Whisk well. The batter will be as thin as crepe batter.

Heat non stick skillet over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp of oil.
Coat each cabbage leaves with flour and drench with batter mix drizzling out the extra in the bowl. Place the battered leaf on the skillet and fry for 3-5 minutes. Do not move it around. It will sear the surface nicely golden and crispy. Flip to the other side and continue to cook for another 3 minutes or so. Serve warm with dipping sauce.

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