Category Archives: Doshirak (Lunchbox)

Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

 

Kongjaban was my all time favorite lunchbox banchan (side dish) when I was a kid. My most happy lunchbox(도시락 doshirak) always included at least 2 of the following: Kongjaban, Sauteed string potatoesJangjorim, Oeji (pickled cucumbers) and  Gim (roasted sea laver). My school day mornings passed by more quickly and happily when I knew I had these in my lunchbox… :)

Usually, kids don’t like beans very much. I certainly remember not liking any kind of beans mixed in my rice when I was little. I never liked the mushy texture of cooked beans and also the fact that it kind of had no flavor. But the balance of sweetness and saltiness (you know that ‘sweet and salty’ is one of my favorite flavor combination, right?) and the not-mushy texture of this Kongjaban made it all different.

If done right, these Sweet and Salty Soybeans (Kongjaban 콩자반) can be so delicious. Sadly, there are too many not-so-good Kongjabans served at restaurants or sold at markets that give this dish a bad name. PLEASE  believe me – that’s not how the dish is supposed to taste. The soybeans are usually too soft and mushy or too hard and the sauce is so bland that it basically tastes like nothing.. Sad sad sad..I bought one or two ready made, packaged Kongjaban and also one from a banchan corner at the Korean market and as I expected, quite flavorless…

Try making these soybeans at home for yourself and see how you like them.

Anyways, let’s get started –

 

 

Servings: 8-10                 Prep Time: 5-6 hrs              Cooking Time: 1 hr                 Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 C soaked  or 3/4 C dry black soy beans (서리태 Seoritae)
  • 3 C or more water
  • 5 T soy sauce (jinkanjang 진간장)
  • 4 T sugar
  • 2 C liquid from soaked beans
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or rice malt syrup

Directions

  1. Soak the dry soybeans in 2 C of water 5~6 hrs or overnight. The soaking time can vary depending on the temperature. Warmer temps require less time (3~4 hrs) and colder temps require more (8~12 hrs).
    soaked black soy beans

    soaked black soy beans

    FYI, here’s a close up of dry vs soaked black soy beans:

    dry vs soaked black soy beans

    dry vs soaked black soy beans

  2. Drain the liquid from the soaked soybeans and add to pot with 3 1/2 C of water. Bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower heat to medium and cook UNCOVERED for approx 12 minutes until the beans are fully cooked. Soybeans should be soft but still slightly crunchy and not mushy.
  3. Drain the cooked soybeans while reserving the cooking liquid.
  4. In a pot, add 2 C of the cooking liquid + soy sauce + sugar and bring to boil over med-high heat.
  5. Add the soybeans to the boiling soy sauce liquid and lower heat once it starts to boil like below. Simmer for 25 min, stirring often. Lower the heat if you find that the liquid is reducing too quickly.

    kongjaban boiling in pot

    kongjaban boiling in pot

  6. Add maple syrup to add shine and additional sweetness. Cook for another 20 min (stir often) or so until the sauce is reduced and the color has turned dark brown like below:
    cooked kongjaban in pot

    finished kongjaban in pot

    And so there you go! It’s pretty simple, no? Let it cool and store in a container at room temperature for 2-3 days or in your fridge for many days. Serve at room temp or can be eaten cold out of the fridge. Enjoy it with some plain rice or as a side dish to go with other spicy dishes. As I said, it makes a great side dish in kid’s lunchboxes!

    Sweet and Salty soy beans

    Korean Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

Common Problems and Tips

  • The most frequent problems in making Kongjaban is that the beans come out too hard.
    • This is due mainly for 3 reasons:
    1. beans are not fully soaked
    2. beans are not fully cooked before seasoning is added
    3. beans are cooked in soy sauce+sugar too quickly at high heat
  • Substitute regular white soy beans, mung beans, peanuts instead of black soy beans.
  • For extra flavorful sauce, add one or more of the following: ginger, green onion, dried red chili, whole garlic clove, or onion.

Soy maple glazed anchovies (멸치 볶음 Myulchi Bokkeum)

soy glazed anchovies with peppers

soy glazed anchovies with peppers

I am actually best known for my Myulchi Bokkeum among my friends and family. And it’s probably one of the dish I make the most. So I’m not sure why I haven’t posted this before…I guess I really didn’t think that it was anything special..but then recently eating at a restaurant, I realized how the taste can vary from the ones that are really bland,  to the ones that have the perfect balance of salty and sweet and then the ones that are just overloaded with spice and garlic – making it hard for you to really taste the anchovy at all.  Also in terms of texture,  it can be too wet and mushy or too hard and gummy – missing the perfectly chewy and crispy range in the middle. Of course, there is the wet version (Jorim)  which is supposed to be very soft but we are talking about the dry version here which is called bokkeum (볶음) and that is all about having the right amount of crispness without it being too hard.

Nutrition: Because you eat these anchovies whole including the bones, they are loaded in calcium. My husband says that this is how he was able to grow tall even though he hardly drank any milk while growing up. Myulchi is also a good source of DHA which is an important nutrient for the brain. So you can see that myulchi bokkeum is really one of the most nutritious lunchbox (doshirak) banchan you can make for your child. And most likely, your child will love the taste of it, so give this a try!

Print Recipe

 

Servings: 3-4                                       Cooking Time: 15 min                                     Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 C small dried anchovies for stir fry (볶음 bokkeum)
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 pc of ginger slice (1/4 in thick)
  • 2 shishito/green chili peppers (optional)
  • for the glaze
    • 1 T soy sauce
    • 1 T sugar
    • 1 T sake or rice wine
    • 1 tsp water
    • sesame seeds
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp maple syrup or rice syrup or malt syrup
    • 1/4 tsp sesame oil

Directions

1. Try to buy good quality dried anchovies (마른 멸치 mareun myulchi). They should not be too dry (it should still be somewhat soft and not hard). If the anchovies are really dry it means it’s too old. The best way to judge the quality is to taste them – they should be still soft, chewy and taste not too salty but meaty and even a bit sweet. Here’s a pic of some good quality myulchi and their varying sizes. All these three sizes are good for making myulchi bokkeum.

different sizes of dried anchovies

different sizes of dried anchovies

Anything bigger, it is really not fit to be eaten whole since the innards taste quite bitter. Some people may even say that the bigger size at top left is too big. But if you take off the head along with the gut from the anchovy, you can enjoy a more meaty mulychi bokkeum. Below is a photo that shows how you can take out the gut and the head – hold the head with one hand and twist it off gently and most likely the gut will come off with the head.

gutted anchovies

gutted anchovy (top right)

2. Prepare the glaze –  in a bowl, add soy sauce, sugar, sake, water, and sesame seeds. Set aside. Cut shishito peppers into bite size pieces.

ingredients for myulchi bokkeum

ingredients for myulchi bokkeum

3. On medium high heat and brown ginger in oil (2 min or so) until brown. The essence of ginger will get infused into the oil which will take away any fishy smell from the anchovies.

ginger in oil

ginger in oil

myulchi saute

myulchi saute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Add dried anchovies and sliced peppers to the hot ginger oil and saute for 3-4 minutes until they are slightly browned. This step is very important. Make sure you saute enough until the anchovies are well browned before going to the next step.

5. Lower the heat and add the soy sauce glaze to the pan. Stir for about 2 min. until the anchovies are evenly glazed with the sauce.  Drizzle the maple syrup and stir for another 1 – 2 min until the anchovies are well coated and has a sheen to them. Turn off the heat. Finish the dish by drizzling some sesame oil.

myulchi bokkeum

myulchi bokkeum

Serving Suggestions

Myulchi Bokkeum is really one of the most basic banchan in a classic Korean meal. It is a great item in children’s lunchboxes and also in ssam (try this instead of pike mackerel or bulgogi in a ssam). Also great with various soups – both spicy and savory/mild flavors.

Storage

Most markets will store these in the fridge but it tastes best when it is kept at room temperature. It will stay fresh for days to even a week at room temperature due to its salt and sugar content.

Variations

Make a spicier version by reducing soy sauce to 1/2 T and adding 1/2 ~ 1 T gochujang. The recent trend is to add nuts such as walnuts, sliced almonds and peanuts when making myulchi bokkeum so it’s something worth trying if you like nuts.

Crispy Zucchini Pancakes (호박부침개 Hobak buchimgae)

hobak buchimgae (zucchini pancake)

hobak buchimgae (zucchini pancake)

Buchimgae is such a simple dish and yet the many possible variations makes it a must have in your everyday repertoire of Korean recipes. It is most delicious when it is just directly off the hot pan, freshly cooked, still steaming hot. The simplest version has just one kind of vegetable such as zucchini, chives or green onions. The most elaborate versions have a combination of seafood such as calamari, scallops, clams and shrimp along with zucchini, green onions and onions. Add bits of green chili peppers and you will have a winner that goes well with just about any Korean meal.

The batter has just as many variations. Flour, water and salt is your very basic recipe but Koreans add rice flour, acorn flour and potato flour to give it additional flavor and texture. To make it extra crispy, my trick is to add tempura batter mix in addition to flour.

Once you learn the basics of making this style of pancake, you can very easily create your favorite buchimgae by  mixing and substituting ingredients.

Jeon or Boochimgae is usually served as a side dish in most restaurants but can also be eaten as the main dish and even become a meal all on its own.

My fond memories of eating buchimgae as a kid was when we had them as afternoon snacks at home (or should I say it’s more like sneaking pieces away from the plate as they were cooked for dinner).  Crispy on the outside and slightly chewy in the inside, with the bits of zucchini and onions providing slight crunchiness to the texture.

KEY POINTS

  • the batter to solid ingredients ratio is very important. The batter should be just enough to cover the ingredients. Too much batter just makes a very bland, tasteless, doughy buchimgae. This is a very common mistake many people make. It may look like there isn’t enough batter to cover the ingredients but trust me it will work out.
  • use generous amount of oil when frying. don’t be timid about adding more oil as you cook it. most often you will have to add more oil after you turn it over. make sure you fry until it has spots of golden brown color.

Print Recipe

 

Servings: 4                            Prep: 10 min                   Cook: 10 min                      Difficulty: Medium

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large Korean Zucchini (Hobahk) or  2 small Italian zucchini, ¼ in thick sticks (should make approx 2 C)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2-3 Green Chili Peppers (optional)
  • 1/3 C all purpose flour
  • 3 T Korean Tempura Mix (튀김가루 Twigim Garoo – see my yache twigim post for pic)
  • 6 T water
  • 1 tsp sea salt (for flash pickling)
  • vegetable (canola) oil for frying (about 1/2 C)
  • For the sauce:
    • 2 T soy sauce
    • 1 T vinegar
    • dash of red pepper powder (optional)

Directions

1. Cut Zucchini into 1/4 in slices and then into match sticks.Korean Zucchini works best but Italian zucchinis are a good substitute. Regular American zucchinis are not as succulent and sweet. One zucchini should make about 2 C.

zucchini slices

zucchini slices

zucchini sticks

zucchini sticks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Sprinkle some sea salt (about 1 tsp per2 C) on the zucchini and toss them. Make  sure the salt is evenly distributed throughout. Leave them salted for 5-7 min until they become limp when held up with a finger – like so..

salted zucchini slices

salted zucchini slices

3. Gently squeeze out excess water from the zucchini sticks. Do not squeeze too much and kill the zucchini!

4. In a large bowl, add the zucchini sticks and then  flour, water and tempura mix. Mix with your hands gently until fully mixed. I usually don’t measure the flour and water. I do it by feel which works better a lot of times. This way, you don’t have to measure the ingredients. Just cut up vegetables, and make enough batter to produce good buchimgae. Making batter for this dish does not have to be an exact science.

The consistency should be like pancake batter or drinkable yogurt. The amount of batter should not be more than the vegetable. The batter should not fully cover the ingredients as you see below.

boochimgae batter

buchimgae batter

5. It’s now time to cook the buchimgae!  On medium high, heat a non-stick frying pan or cast iron pan with about 1 ~ 2 T of oil. When the oil is hot (oil should swirl around like water), ladle the buchimgae onto the pan. When making buchimgae, it’s common to make one large pancake but you can also make several smaller pancakes.

Fry until the edges become brown. 3 min or so on each side but results vary so just pay attention to the edges.

buchimgae edges browning

buchimgae edges browning

Turn it over when the bottom side edges become golden brown as in the picture. Adjust heat to medium if you feel it is browning too quickly.

buchimgae fried until golden brown

buchimgae fried until golden brown

Doesn’t this look amazing? Be sure to add more oil (1T or more) after turning it over. You simply cannot achieve this lovely golden brownness without using a good amount of oil. If your buchimgae is showing spots of black before it browns and/or if it doesn’t have this glow, that means you are not using enough oil. The heat may also be too high if it burns too quickly or too low if it’s not browning at all after being on the heat for 3 min or so.

When both sides have browned, move it to a cutting board and cut the buchimgae into bite size pieces. I like to cut mine into strips and then diagonally, producing diamond shapes.

zucchini buchimgae cut into bite size pieces

zucchini buchimgae cut into bite size pieces

Best served hot with some soy sauce + vinegar sauce mixture.

Variations/Substitutions

  • instead of tempura batter mix, substitute
    • 1/2 C flour + 6~7 T water + 1/2 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp sugar
  • use any combination of the following ingredients with or without zucchini
    • calamari, shrimp, scallops, clams, imitation crab meat
    • green onions, chinese chives, kkaetnip, Korean green chili peppers, shishito peppers, annaheim peppers, jalapeno peppers
  • substitute or add the following into the batter:
    • sweet rice flour, potato flour
    • you can also add an egg if you want some additional richness, just reduce the amount of water

Storage/Reheating Tips/Serving ideas

  • keep at cool room temp for 6-8 hrs and can be served at room temperature
  • keep in fridge for few days
  • taste best when reheated in the frying pan. usually no additional oil is needed
  • great as afternoon snacks for kids, doshirak(lunchbox) banchan and party dish since you can make this in advance and no reheating is necessary

Sweet and salty lotus roots (연근조림 Yeonkeun Jorim)

sweet and salty braised lotus roots

sweet and salty braised lotus roots

So what do these braised lotus roots (연근조림 Yeongeun/Yeongn/Yeonkeun Jorim) remind me of? It totally brings back fond memories from my high school days, eating lunch boxes with my friends, sharing our banchan (반찬 – side dish) together. And this was certainly one of my top favorites to have in the lunch box. It is also a commonly served side dish at many Korean restaurants. But most often than not, the  lotus roots jorim at restaurants are either too salty, not sweet enough or too sweet and the texture is usually very gummy. They taste best when they are slightly crunchy, salty and sweet, all at the same time.

Lotus roots are also well known for its health benefits. First of all, it’s very low calorie (3.5 oz is only 70 calories). It is a great source of fiber and vitamin C. It also has good amounts of vitamin B complex and even minerals like copper, zinc, magnesium and manganese.

This recipe was requested by my niece MJ – to whom I owe many thanks for all her wonderful feedback on my blog throughout this year.

 

Servings: 6                                  Cooking Time: 30 min                                            Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

1 package of lotus roots is about 4 C in volume

1 package of lotus roots is about 4 C in volume

  • one 16 oz pkg
  • blanched lotus roots (about 4 C)
  • 1 T + 1tsp vegetable oil
  • 4 T + 2tsp soy sauce
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 T + 1tsp cooking rice wine (sake is good)
  • 1 T rice malt syrup
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 3/4 C + 1 tsp water
  • pinch of sesame seeds as garnish

Directions

1. I could not find any fresh lotus roots at my store so I bought this packaged lotus root that comes already blanched. If you can buy fresh lotus roots, that’s probably better but I think this is just as good. For fresh lotus roots, just wash, peel, slice them into 1/4 inch thickness and then blanch them in boiling vinegar water (1 T vinegar to 4-5 C water).

package of blanched lotus roots

16 0z package of blanched lotus roots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The packaged lotus roots already come in vinegar water so make sure you drain it, rinse it a couple times and then dry off any excess water by placing them on sheets of paper towel.

 

rinsed lotus roots

rinsed lotus roots (yes, that’s my dog on the right) – I put my bowl on the floor for better lighting and when I took the picture, she was already in it!

 

wipe water off of lotus roots on paper towel

2. On medium high heat, add the 1 T+ 1tsp of oil in a pot and lightly saute the lotus roots for 5 min.

3. Make the sauce by mixing the soy sauce, sugar, cooking wine, water and malt syrup. Add the sauce to the pot and bring to a boil on medium high heat.

Add sauce to lotus roots

Add sauce to lotus roots

4. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Stir the lotus root slices every few minutes to make sure they get evenly coated with the sauce. It should look something like this..

lotus roots simmering in sauce

lotus roots simmering in sauce

5. For the final step, take off the lid and add 2 T maple syrup. Let the sauce reduce further (so that it barely covers the bottom of the pot) in low heat for 5-7 minutes. This will add a nice glaze to the jorim. Stir the lotus roots often to glaze them evenly.

yeongeun (lotus roots) jorim is now done

yeongeun (lotus roots) jorim is now done

And there it is! Sprinkle some roasted sesame seeds on top. These lotus roots will be just sweet and salty enough to make a great side dish to any Korean meal. If the lotus roots comes out chewy or gummy, you probably cooked it too long.

Storage

You can keep yeonkeun jorim in the fridge for several days up to a week. Reheating is not necessary. They taste great at room temperature.

Lunchboxes

Having made this dish, I was inspired to make a lunchbox from the yeonkeun jorim and other leftover banchan I had in the fridge. On the right half – I found some leftover egg garnishes from a dduk gook we had couple days ago, some sauteed aster caber (취나물 chwinamul) and dried radish (무우말랭이 moo malengi). Because this lunchbox has only one partition, I created my own partitions by molding some tin foil into little square boxes. This is how moms used to separate banchan in their children’s lunchboxes in Korea. Otherwise, it can become one big bibimbab by the time you get to school! On the left half – I put some rice with wild grains and some leftover chicken cutlet w/ tonaktsu sauce on top. All of these can be eaten at room temperature so no need to heat anything. The combination of the savory, salty, sweet and a touch of spiciness really made this lunchbox simply divine!

Korean lunchbox (rice, chicken cutlet, chwinamul, lotus roots, egg, moo malengi)

Korean lunchbox (rice, chicken cutlet, chwinamul, lotus roots, egg, moo malengi)

perfectly glazed yeongeun jorim

perfectly glazed yeonkeun jorim

Stir-fried cucumbers (오이나물 oyi namul)

cucumber namul

cucumber namul

This Oyi Namul(오이나물) is also sometimes called Oyi Bokkeum (오이볶음) which literally means cucumber stir fry. When you saw the name of the dish, you might have thought – “What? Stir fry cucumbers? How can that taste good?”.  But you will be surprised how good this tastes – the slightly pickled cucumbers have such a wonderfully crunchy and chewy texture. Any raw cucumber taste (that some people don’t like) is nicely smoothed out by the cooking process. Even my husband, who frowns when I give him the little bit of fresh cucumbers that go on top of Zazang Myun, ate these and thought they were ‘pretty good’.

Since I had such an abundant harvest of cucumbers this year – just from one plant, I think I harvested more than 20 cucumbers so far – I have been busy trying to eat all the cucumbers. I shared some with my neighbors of course. Then I made 2 batches of the summer soy sauce pickles, used them in salads, ate them raw with gochujang, ..etc. I remembered that I had some leftover stir fried ground beef from some Dduk Gook I made recently and then remembered how I loved to have oiy namul when I lived in Korea. Now, all I had to do was to cut, pickle, squeeze the cucumbers and stir fry them with the beef!

Prep time: 2 min (if you already have the cooked ground beef, 8 min)

Cooking time: 3 min assuming you have the beef already cooked

Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber (Korean, English or Persian)
  • sea salt for pickling (1 tsp sea salt per 1 C of sliced cucumbers)
  • 2 T Korean seasoned ground beef (optional)
    • quick recipe for Korean seasoned ground beef
    • 1/3 lb beef  ground beef
        • 2 tsp soy sauce (Kikkoman)
        • 2 tsp sugar
        • 2 tsp rice cooking wine
        • 1 tsp sesame oil
        • 1 tsp minced garlic
        • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)
        • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

About cucumbers: Having the right kind of cucumber and using good quality sea salt is really is the key here. The best kind of cucumber is Korean (of course) and then English or Persian. Choose ones with as little wax on the skin as possible (using the skin adds additional texture) with the skin not being too tough or thick. If the skin is tough, that means the cucumber is too mature which often leaves a bitter taste in your mouth – which is not good.. If you can’t buy any of this variety, small pickling cucumbers will also work. If the skin is still too tough, peel the skin before you use it.

Directions

1. Cut the cucumbers into 1/8 inch thick slices. I usually don’t emphasize the thickness but it’s kind of important here because how well the cucumbers pickle will depend on the correct thickness. Too thin, and it will actually rip apart when you squeeze it later. Too thick, and it will take a long time to pickle. And try to cut with even thickness throughout so they all pickle evenly.

sliced cucumbers for oyi namul

sliced cucumbers for oyi namul

2. Put the sliced cucumbers in a bowl. Sprinkle the sea salt and toss the cucumbers to make sure the salt is evenly distributed. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes until the cucumbers are easily bendable without breaking.

3. You can reheat the leftover already cooked, seasoned ground beef in a pan on medium heat. If you don’t have any leftovers, just season some ground beef (use my recipe above) and stir fry it in a pan on medium high heat until the beef is all cooked.

Korean seasoned ground beef in pan

Korean seasoned ground beef in pan

If you like mushrooms, you can also add some sliced mushrooms to the ground beef as I did here. When the beef is nice and hot, turn the heat off and let it wait until you get the cucumber ready.

4. Squeeze out excess water from the cucumbers. You can just take a handful in your hands and squeeze the water out as much as you can (the more you squeeze the liquid out, the crisper the cucumbers will be). You can also use a cheese cloth to wring out the liquid like below:

Wringing out excess liquid from cucumbers in cheese cloth

Wringing out excess liquid from cucumbers in cheese cloth

Put the cucumbers in the cheese cloth and wrap it into a ball. Hold one end with your left hand and the ball shaped end with your right hand (if you are right handed) and twist the liquid out (like you wring out water from your clothes).

cucumbers (before)

cucumbers (BEFORE)

cucumbers (AFTER)

cucumbers (AFTER)

5. Add these squeezed, pickled cucumbers into the pan and stir fry the beef and the cucumbers together for 2 min or so on medium high heat.  You don’t want to cook the cucumbers too long. Just long enough for them to lose their raw taste. Sprinkle some crushed roasted sesame seeds and now you have your oyi  namul!

stif fried cucumbers and ground beef

stif fried cucumbers and ground beef (oyi namul)

Oyi namul tastes great at room temperature so it’s another great side dish or banchan for doshirak. You should store it in the fridge because of the beef and it will keep well for days. Another way to eat the oyi namul is to make bibimbap out of it. Just mix some rice and the oyi namul with some gochujang and sesame oil and it will be another simple and quick meal.

Mini beef patties and beef stuffed perilla leaves – Wanja Jeon (완자전) and Kkaetnip Jeon(깻잎전)

Korean beef patties (Wanja Jeon) and beef wrapped in kkaetnip (Kkaetnip Jeon)

Korean beef patties (Wanja Jeon) and beef wrapped in kkaetnip (Kkaetnip Jeon)

These jeons serve as a great side dish to any Korean meal with spicy soups or jjigaes. They are also great for lunchboxes because they keep well and taste good even when they are not warm. The only thing is that it takes a bit of effort and time to make it, and that’s why I don’t get to make it as often as I would like. But when you have children or friends to help you, it is an excellent way to get them involved and have a nice conversation as you make them.

“Jeon” is also sometimes called “Jeonyueo” and it refers to the technique of coating an ingredient (be it a meat or vegetable) with flour and egg and then pan frying it in oil. The most wonderful thing about a jeon is that you can make a jeon out of so many different ingredients. Because this method of cooking really helps to keep the ingredients moist and tender, and allows the flavor of the ingredients to speak for themselves since salt and pepper are usually the only seasonings added. I’ve already posted on how to make Hobahk(Zucchini) Jeon and you can use the same method but use other ingredients as listed below:

  • shrimp (Saewoo Jeon 새우전)
  • oyster (Gul Jeon 굴전)
  • cod (Daegoo Jeon 대구전)
  • frozen alaska pollock (Dongtae Jeon 동태전)
  • liver (Kan Jeon 간전) – calf liver or pig liver
  • scallop (Paejoo Jeon 패주전)
  • pork belly (Samgyupsal Jeon 삽겹살전)
  • eggplant (Gaji Jeon 가지전)
  • kimchi (Kimchi Jeon 김치전) – rinse the kimchi in water before coating with flour and egg
  • ground beef (Wanja Jeon 완자전) – need to season the ground beef mixture – shown in this post

And then there are other kinds of jeon that involve stuffing the ingredient with the ground beef mixture:

  • green chili pepper (Gochu Jeon 고추전) – all varieties of green chili can be used here
  • shitake mushroom (Beoseot Jeon 버섯전)

In this post, I will show how you can make the ground beef mixture for the beef patty jeon(wanja jeon) and also use the same mixture inside a perilla leaf wrap jeon (Kkaetnip Jeon).

 

Beef Wanja Jeon

Servings: 4                                      Cooking time: 20 min                               Prep Time:  20 min

Ingredients for beef patty or beef stuffing:

  1. 1/2 lb ground beef ( you can also use 1/4 lb ground beef + 1/4 lb ground pork)
  2. 4 oz extra firm tofu (this is about 1/4 of a standard 14 to 15 oz tofu package or 1/2 of the package shown below)trader joe's sroupted extra firm tofu
  3. 1/4 C onion, finely chopped
  4. 1 T green onion, finely chopped
  5. 1/2 tsp garlic, chopped
  6. 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  7. 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  8. 1 tsp cooking rice wine or mirin
  9. 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  10. 2-3 tsp sesame oil
  11. 1/4 tsp salt
  12. 1/8 tsp black pepper
  13. 1/4 tsp sesame seeds, crushed

Directions

For making the beef wanja jeon, you will need the following to cook in the pan:

  • 1/4 C flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • dash of salt
  • oil for pan frying

1. Prepare the tofu by putting it in a cheese cloth and removing the excess water by wringing the liquid out of the tofu. This also breaks up the tofu into crumbles which will mix evenly with the ground meat.

extra firm tofu

extra firm tofu

tofu wrung in cheese cloth

tofu wrung in cheese cloth

2. Chop up the onions, green onions and garlic. Garlic shown in picture is frozen garlic made in advance.

chopped onions, green onions and garlic

chopped onions, green onions and garlic

3. Get all the beef stuffing ingredients and the seasonings into a bowl. This is all the 13 ingredients listed above!

Ground meat and seasonings

Ground meat and seasonings

Mix all the ingredients well with your hands until it looks something like this:

beef patty mixture

beef patty mixture

4. Make the patties by first taking some in your hand and rolling it into a ball. This is a good time to have a friend or your family help you make the patties while you get other things ready. It will make things go a lot faster!

beef rolled into a ball for wanjan jeon

beef rolled into a ball for wanjan jeon

Once they are rolled into balls, you can then squash them down between your hands to make into little mini patties as shown below:

beef patties ready for wanja jeon

beef patties ready for wanja jeon

5. Prepare a jeon station next to your stove by filling two shallow bowls – one with flour and the other with beaten eggs. Coat the beef patties in flour first. It is good to coat several patties at a time so that you can put the patties in the pan right after another. Otherwise, it just gets too crazy – coating, dunking and turning over – to do all at the same time.

beef patties in flour

beef patties in flour

beef patty in beaten egg

beef patty in beaten egg

Heat the pan on medium heat with about 2 T of oil. When the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium. Add the flour and egg coated patties into the pan. Cook until the patties are firm or springy when pressed – this means they are fully cooked.

Wanja jeon in frying pan

Wanja jeon in frying pan

Kkaetnip Jeon

To make Kkaetnip Jeon, make the beef mixture as above and then fill half of the perilla leaf with it and fold it over to make a folded sandwich.

filling kkaetnip with meat tofu mixture

filling kkaetnip with meat tofu mixture

Stuffed kkaetnip jeon

Stuffed kkaetnip jeon

The rest is the same as above. Coat with flour and egg and then pan fry it!

kkaetnip jeon in flour

kkaetnip jeon in flour

More about jeon…

Jeon was an indispensable part of the traditional Korean party(Janchi 잔치) menu (for birthdays, weddings and New Years) and also a part of food offerings in the ancestral ceremonies (Jesa 제사) performed on New Years, Thanksgiving and the ancestor’s birthday. As a child, I remember helping making jeon all day (sometimes even a day or two in advance) before a big party. Jeon is great for big parties because you can make it well in advance and it keeps well (especially in cool weather) and when the guests arrive, all you need to do is reheat it in a pan with a little oil and serve. I do have this thing about serving jeon as part of a big party menu though – because the jeons are usually pretty mild tasting, they are easily drowned out by other more stronger tasting dishes. I basically feel that the return on the investment of time is really not that great in these cases. I do love making and serving jeon as the main side dish of a simpler dinner menu with perhaps just a spicy soup or jjigae. In my opinion, you get to really appreciate the jeon much more this way which then makes all the extra work worthwhile.

  • You can also add finely chopped carrots to the beef mixture which is a great way to get kids to eat more vegetables.
  • Jeon is a great doshirak banchan (lunchbox side dish) since it still taste good at room temperature.

Continue reading

Almost instant Riceball(주먹밥 Joomukbap)

Joomukbap using TJ's Onigiri

Joomukbap using TJ’s Onigiri

This is the quickest and easiest way to make Joomukbap if you don’t have the time or don’t want to get into making the rice, etc.  My trick is to use Trader Joe’s frozen Yaki Onigiri (Baked Japanese Rice Triangle)! I posted the full recipe of the Korean Samgak Joomukbap recently so if you want to make some authentic Korean Joomukbap, please refer to my previous post. But I’m sure you will agree that in reality we are always short on time in the morning! I have to confess, I ended up making this version for my daughter quite a few times or maybe more than a “few times”… ;)

Now, if you have the fillings already made, it takes only about 5 min. Even if you don’t have the fillings made, you can still choose some of the quicker options such as Spam and Tuna with Mayo (refer to my Samgak Joomukbap posting)  and make Joomukbap in 10 min or less. So always have this as a backup in your freezer for desperate times when you didn’t get to prepare the rice in advance or if you just got up too late in the morning.

So hopefully you have a Trader Joe’s store nearby – here’s what the package looks like and you should find it in the frozen section.

Directions

Trader Joe's Onigiri

Trader Joe’s Onigiri

1. Follow the package instructions and defrost the rice triangle pieces in the microwave. If you don’t already have the fillings made, follow the instructions on my previous Joomukbap post and make the fillings.

2. When the rice pieces are warmed up, make a hole in the middle and put the fillings in.

Joomukbap with ground beef(left) and spam(right)

Joomukbap with ground beef(left) and spam(right)

3. Cut up some pieces of Kimbap Kim (Seaweed/Nori) and wrap the rice pieces or spread shredded Kim on the outside. Or you can also coat with Babiran seasonings or other Furikake type flakes.

cut up Kimbap Kim(Nori)

cut up Kimbap Kim(Nori)

4. When you pack the rice pieces for lunch, individually wrap them in plastic wrap. This keeps them moist and also easy to eat.

Some additional filling ideas: Myulchi Bokkeum(멸치볶음), Artificial Crabmeat in Mayo(오양맛살), Shitake Mushrooms stir fried in soy sauce, mirin and sugar.

Joomukbap

Different kinds of Joomukbap

Enjoy your lunch!

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