So…..there’s something that I have never figured out. Why don’t most Korean restaurants have Yache(Vegetable) Twigim(Fry) on their menu? It tastes soooo good and is pretty easy to make. But for some reason you rarely find it on any restaurant menu. Go figure.. Anyway, my husband really loves these fries and because we could never order it at restaurants, I started making it at home. It’s also my personal favorite and I missed it terribly when I first came to the US because it’s one of the things that my college buddies and I used to have all the time when we were at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. The Original Boonshik(오리지날 분식- I would put a link up but they don’t have any website) restaurant in front of Ewha(이대앞) has been serving Yache Twigim and Ddukbokki for generations. In fact, I remember my sisters taking me to this place on special occasions (it was really a hole-in-the-wall kind of place at that time) and I remember thinking how lucky my sisters were that they could eat this whenever they wanted to..
You may wonder if these fries are similar to the Japanese style tempura. They are somewhat similar but they are also quite different. The Korean style batter is not as extra crispy as the authentic Japanese style tempura, but it’s still crispy and more substantial than the tempura. Korean Twigim is also a lot more flavorful because there are different vegetables mixed in a single bite.
Ok, so here’s how you can make your own Vegetable Fries at home- Korean style. This recipe uses sweet potato but you can also use regular potato instead.
Difficulty: Moderate Prep Time: 25 min. Cooking Time: 25 min Servings: 4-5
- 1 large yellow onion (sliced)
- 3 medium size Korean sweet potato(Gogooma 고구마) or 3 C french fry-sized strips
- 2-3 carrots ( or 2 C french fry-sized strips)
- 2 bunches of green onion (or 1 1/2 C cut)
- 6 C of vegetable or canola oil for deep frying
For the batter:
- 1 C all-purpose flour
- 2 C frying batter mix (튀김가루 Twigim Gahroo)
- 2 1/2 C cold water
** Substitution for Twigim Gahroo **
If you can’t get Twigim Gahroo, you can use the following ingredients and it will turn out just as good.
2 1/2 C flour + 1/2 C cornstarch + 1 beaten egg + 2 1/2 C cold water + 1 tsp salt
1.Prepare the vegetables: Peel the sweet potatoes and carrots. Cut them into french-fry sized sticks (McDonald fries size will do). The potato and carrot sticks should be cut roughly the same thickness because you want them to both cook evenly. Clean and cut both green onions and onions so that they are roughly similar in size to the potato and carrots. Onions cook quicker so they can be a little thicker. Add all the vegetables into a large bowl.
2.Heat up the oil: Heat about 6 cups of vegetable or canola oil for deep frying on medium high heat. You can use a deep fryer, a wok or even a regular saute pan (3 1/2 qt or larger). Just make sure the pan or pot is deep enough to hold the oil and not have it overflow when it bubbles up (at least 2 1/2 inches or more between top of oil and top edge of your pan).
3.Mix the batter and vegetables: Add 2 C of Twigim Gahroo(튀김가루) and 1 C of flour to the bowl of vegetables. Below is a picture of the Twigim Gahroo I used - Ottogi brand. I’ve also used Baeksul brand which is also good. Just try to find a Korean frying batter mix that says NO MSG. If you can’t buy Twigim Gahroo, use my substitution recipe.
Mix all the dry ingredients with the cut up vegetables in the bowl. Make sure all the vegetables are well coated with the dry mix. Now add the wet ingredients and mix the contents well until there are no more lumps. It’s best to use your hands to mix so prepare to get your hand dirty! You can also wear plastic gloves if you’d like.
Make sure you use cold water – this makes it crispy. If you want to make it extra crispy (tempura style) then you can add ice into the batter and use a bit less water. The consistency of the batter should be similar to a creamy soup. When you pick up the vegetables to put in the fryer, take from the bottom of the bowl so that they are fully coated with the batter. For example, in the picture below, if you were to just take the top batch, it would not have enough of the batter and it will not taste as good.
4. Fry them! By now, your oil should be hot enough. The oil temperature should be around 280° F or 140° C. You can also test the temperature of the oil by dropping a piece of a vegetable. It should rise and bubble up almost immediately. When the oil is ready, pick up a bunch of vegetables (try to have a good mix of different veggies) with the batter and put them in oil. Usually about 4 -5 bunches works well. Putting any more may lower the temperature too much. But not putting in enough bunches may end up burning the fries too quickly without the vegetables being fully cooked.
So by looking at the picture above, I can tell you, there are 4 bunches in the oil. The bunch at bottom left is almost ready to be taken out, the top right one is the least cooked and will need to cook some more. I haven’t measured the exact time but I would say it probably takes about 3-4 min for each bunch to cook. Just watch for the color to become light golden brown and the texture to get crispy and hard.
Line a plate or a colander with paper towel and let the cooked pieces drain for few minutes. Serve them hot with a simple soy sauce and vinegar ( 1 T soy sauce + 1 tsp vinegar) or go fancy and add chopped green onions, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds and sugar to the soy vinegar sauce.
What goes well with Yache Twikim?
- My favorite is to serve with Gochoojang Hobak Jjigae (Korean red pepper paste stew with Zucchini) because it really helps to balance any heaviness of the vegetable fries.
- Kimchi is a must or any other pickled vegetables
- Also tastes great with other Boonshik(분식) type dishes such as Ddukbokki, Udon, and Bibim Gooksoo.
Can I use the same batter to cook seafood or other veggies?
Yes, you can use this same batter recipe to fry calamari/squid -yum-…..another favorite of mine. You can also fry other vegetables such as Kkatnip, Ssukat, Fresh Shitake mushrooms, Bell peppers, Zucchini…
How to store and reheat?
Store leftover twigim in the fridge up to several days. My favorite way of reheating leftover fried foods is to reheat them in the oven (325-350 F) – this way, it gets crispy and also lot of the fat drips away. Microwave is the worst way to reheat it. Cut it into flatter pieces and pan fry them if you don’t have time to heat the oven.
Well, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!