Kimchi pancakes gone wild

After committing to try this recipe over the weekend, I enlisted some help for what I knew would be an interesting meal, even if everything went as planned.  But of course it did not, no matter that I had every intention of following the recipe to the very last tittle (only multiplying it to feed more).  We had a blast though, J, T, M, and I (I being me), and the more things deteriorated, the more fun it got.  Our experiment was soundly devised: we planned to do make a couple batches of the kimchi pancakes, and compare the results to a “control,” the packaged pajun mix M had on hand.  All the mix needed was some water and the add-ins: carrots, zucchini, and imitation crab meat for us.  Unfortunately, things soured from the beginning, as I wasn’t able to find potato flour (Whole Foods fails!  Potato flour is not even ethnic!).  So I thought rice flour would be an adequate substitute.  The next problem was that what should have been a pancake-y batter was a dough-y paste; in our excitement, I fear we may have lost sight of the exact amounts for which the recipe called.  Multiplying the recipe probably did not help, increasing the likelihood of mathematical errors.  We added oil and water until achieving a batter consistency that approximated that of the control, and then the frying began.

The competition:

M cooked the control batter while I handled the kimchi, which was orange on steroids, a color more fit for a Wong Kar Wai film or a techno rave.  Overall, I thought the control batter produced a pancake on par with a middling Korean restaurant, which is exactly what you hope for from those packages.  It had a nice chewy and our added ingredients worked well together.  Of course the pancakes could have had crisper edges; they always can.

Competition in the pan and looking good:

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Competition on the plate:

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There are no pictures of the kimchi pancakes, either in the frying process or after, because they were unsightly.  I accidentally poured too much batter into the pan for the first pancake, which wreaked havoc on my efforts to turn it over.  Even three spatulas were no match for this mountainous pancake, the others can attest.  It broke into pieces and ended up looking like hash …  nuked mercilously to a pulp.  The second one was thinner but I somehow thought trying to flip it with a flick of the wrist was a good idea.  It wasn’t; half of the pancake ended up in the pan, the other half on the floor.  Both halves at the end of the night.  I think we managed to produce a couple intact pancakes eventually, salvaging the night.  The kimchi pancakes were not chewy but still tasty.  How could they not have been, with red pepper powder and kimchi “juice” as ingredients?  Supremely more satisfying than their counterparts, probably as hideous as they were delicious.  I think this recipe deserves another shot.  I like kimchi but it’s nice to have an alternative to eating it straight up.

Poonchoi Potluck

In celebration of Lunar New Year, I attended a poon choi extravaganza.   It was also partially a potluck, so I decided to try making something I’d been eyeing for awhile: David Lebovitz’s pajun.  The recipe seemed like a promising, time-saving alternative to making them with dough.

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They turned out floppy (instead of crusty) but rather tasty, and I whipped up a simple sweet and sour chili dipping sauce.  Next time I’ll be sure to hit the pan with more oil before cooking these in hopes that they develop a crispified exterior.

Other potluck contributions: a trio pepper platter with a kick-ass spicy hummus, nachos with melted cheese, spaghetti, and an assortment of veggie dumplings and buns.

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The main event, of course, was the poon (I know what some of you are thinking, but try and control your immature selves :P):

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Getting heated up:

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Digging in:

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I tried some octopus, tofu skin, pork, taro, white turnip, mushrooms, and chicken. Though taste-wise, everything was kind of monotonous, I was pleasantly surprised by the chicken; the white meat looked like dark because it presumably had been soaking in all that meat juice for some time, and came out flavorful and moist. It doesn’t look pretty, but it left me satiated and satisfied. Xi nian kuai le!

Another craving meets a happy ending

I heart Korean food, particularly classics such as bibimbap, soon dobu, seafood pajun, japchae.  Eating Korean for me is often a direct application of the ‘pain is pleasure’ principle, as I can’t get enough of the scorching heat that numbs your mouth, burns your throat, and makes your eyes water.  While the thought of these things may cause the more rational to wince, I embrace food that induces such sensations.  Whatever it is, Korean food seems to bring out the masochist in me.

While Hong Kongers are not especially fond of spicy food, there is a Koreatown in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui.  We made a trip there this weekend and came across some hearty, delicious fare.

Banchan:
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Seafood pajun, beautifully charred:
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Soon dobu:
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I asked for my soon dobu extra spicy, and got what I asked for. As you can tell from its hue, this baby was hot. It totally hit the spot: piping hot, uber-spicy broth, silky tofu, clams, some sticky white rice to soak in, and all was right in my world.

A ordered this cold noodle soup, and when her order came the soup was still icy!
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I tried some of the broth, which was wonderfully flavorful. She gave this dish a thumbs up.

G and his bibimbap, which also got a nod of approval.
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While Hong Kong can be a frustrating place at times, I do very much appreciate that the spectrum of my culinary cravings can be satisfied here. As a result, I do not usually feel deprived of food from back home, unless it’s something very specific like my father’s cooking or hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie from City Bakery. Hint hint, if I am on your Christmas shopping list 😀

In this post:
Sorabol
4/F, Miramar Shopping Centre, 132 Nathan Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong