Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cooking Korean: Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)

Lets start with my first experience with Kimchi.  In college I had two Hawaiian roommates and a number of Hawaiian friends (this is why I eat so much Asian food).  Anyway.  My roommate IAM-bot loved(s) kimchi.  So, when we finally found an Asian grocery story she bought a big vat of it.  She said it was fermented cabbage, which she knew I loved as sauerkraut.  Then she opened it . . . and I smelled one of the worst smells I have ever smelled.  I flatly refused to eat it.  That's right, I refused.  Based on smell I wasn't going near it.  I stayed a way from it to.  No matter how much Korean food I ate, I never touched kimchi.  I should mention something . . . I have a MS is forensic anthropology, without being too gross . . . I've been around some "strong" smells.

But, over time the number of people who told me it doesn't taste the way it smells began to add up.  And then, I made sauerkraut and sausage for a friend who had never had sauerkraut and said . . . it doesn't taste like it smells.  I decided I needed to try it.  So, this is my first Kimchi experiment.  I decided to make Kimchijeon.  Why?  Because, it is intensely kimchi, but cooked . . . I'm not sure why this makes it better.  Maangchi seems to like it and she doesn't usually steer me wrong.  So, I decided to use her Kimchijeon recipe.  At my last trip to the T&T I picked up a little pot of kimchi - premade.  I didn't want to commit to making my own at this point.
If its from Korea it must be good, right?

First, I opened the jar.  the hated smell meet my nose.  I'm not sure why I hate the smell so much.  I like sour cabbage and I like spicy things, but it just hurts.  I tasted it anyway.  It was fine.  I don't think I'll eat it out of the pot with a fork for a snack, but it is edible despite olfactory proof to the contrary. And so we begin with the cooking.

I followed the recipe pretty exactly.  I use a bit more than a cup of kimchi (as my little pot contained a bit over this amount).  It also didn't have any kimchi juice . . . so I skipped it.  I mixed up the batter and it turned out looking like pancake . . . which is good.
Ready to cook . . . the smell had subsided by this point . . .

I got my pan ready and poured scooped in the batter.  I flattened it out and then realized something . . . my pan was too small and steep sided for the flipper to work . . . and I can't do the awesome flip Maangchi did on her video.

So, I divided it up into smaller pancakes in the pan.  I soon learned that my kimchi was still a bit large for what I was trying to do, but it more or less worked as I ended up with pancakes!
Big pancake fail . . .

Delicious little pancakes with Ninjas

I had a bite and it was pretty good.  I felt it could use a sauce so I used some mayo like I do when I make Japanese pancakes.  It went really well together so I feel I can suggest this.  In the end, I at about a 1/3 of a pancake and enjoyed it.  I don't think I could eat more than that in one sitting, but it is good.  I might be convinced to eat kimchi again and just try really hard not to smell it.

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