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Friday, September 23, 2011

Hobak Jeon (Korean zucchini pancakes)

While looking for a recipe to use summer's last zucchini, I stumbled across Hobak Jeon. In Korean food, Jeon (pancakes) are very common, and can be made with a number of different vegetables or meats. These are made with zucchini (hobak).

So often, when I find a recipe that sounds good, I get started cooking right away. I usually make changes here and there, adding a little extra of the things I like, omitting or lessening the things I don't like, and often substituting things I have on hand for things that might require a trip to yet another store.

This time, though, I feel like I deserve a gold star. I actually read through several different recipes ... and even watched a couple of videos for these pancakes before I got started.

I still made substitutions and changes here and there, but I did so with some reasons this time. I went with a piece of this recipe and a bit of that one, as they appealed to me for different reasons.

Most recipes for these Hobak Jeon were very similar... they all called for an equal amount of flour and water, 1 egg for every cup of each of those, and the zucchini.  However, I liked the way Ellie Won at Kitchen Wench made fewer, larger pancakes to cut into pieces and serve as appetizers. They just look much much cooler that way. Also, she was the only one I saw who added carrots, so I went ahead and put some in mine too. In general, she was just so very much more hip than many of the websites highlighting hobak jeon.

If you want a very authentic set of instructions, you can go to Aeri's Kitchen. She provides a video with step-by-step instructions, and has some awesome Korean background music.

Almost all of the recipes called for cutting the zucchini into matchsticks, but I went the easy route and send them through the shredding blade on my food processor. I can't imagine it made much difference.

Enough about all that. Here's the dang recipe.

Hobak Jeon

2 large (or 4-5 small) zucchini
about 2 teaspoons salt
2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 cups water
2 carrots
1/2 onion
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

First, shred the zucchini int the food processor. Take it out, toss it with the salt, and place it into a colander in the sink. The salt will draw out the moisture, and the colander will let it all drain away. Leave it for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs with a whisk to get them fluffy. Add the flour. Adding two cups of flour to two eggs makes for a very dry, very odd mixture. Just do your best to get the eggs spread out in the flour. Next, add the water, one cup at a time. Mix it thoroughly in between cups, so the flour and egg is evenly distributed. You want to end up with a very thin pancake batter.

In the food processor, take out the shredding disc and put in the blade. Pulse the carrots and onions together until they are very finely minced.

Once the zucchini has softened and lost some of its juice, squeeze it thoroughly (to make it as dry as possible) with your hands. Add the zucchini, carrot, and onion to the batter. Add salt and pepper.

Heat a frying pan to medium heat and add about a teaspoon oil.

Pour about 3/4 cup of batter into the pan. Using the back of a spoon, spread it to the edges of the pan. You want the pancake to be very very thin.

Let it cook until it is looking dry and it is getting brown on the bottom. Carefully turn it over, and let it cook until the other side is golden brown also.

Repeat until the batter is gone. It should make 7-8 large, thin pancakes. You might need to add more oil every so often.

Serve, cut into pieces, with a dip made by combining a little soy sauce and vinegar.