Hotteok, a popular street food in South Korea, are a type of bread that is crispy golden fried on the outside with an oozy gooey oh-so-sweet and nutty filling. They are also … and this is a big call … the best pancakes I have ever eaten!
I know from reading other blogs that I should be entertaining you with an evocative description of how I enjoyed authentic Hotteoks while immersing myself in the culture of South Korea. Sadly, I am unable to do this. I didn’t come across Hotteoks while I was in Korea, nor is it mentioned in the Korean cookbook I bought. I am a bit alarmed at the thought that I almost missed out on something so amazing and I can only wonder about what else I need to try. Fortunately for me, Korean cuisine is becoming more accessible here in Brisbane. There’s even a Korean food outlet at my local suburban Westfield shopping centre which I take as a sign that Korean food is now officially mainstream! I really enjoyed the food in Korea and I look forward to exploring it more.
What should I try next? What is your favourite Korean dish?
Recipe adapted from Beyond Kimchee
Makes about 12-14
2 cups flour
1 cup glutenous rice flour
1 tbsp black sesame seeds (optional)
1 sachet (or about 2 tsps) instant or easy-blend yeast
2 tsps sugar
1 tsps salt
1 1/2 cups milk (any type), lukewarm
1 tsp vegetable oil
Extra oil for frying (I used rice bran oil)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp chopped peanuts
1 tsp cinnamon
To make the dough, stir together the flours, sesame seeds, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the milk and oil; mix. It’s quite a sticky dough! Cover the bowl with some cling film and set aside until the dough has doubled in volume (about 30 minutes or so). Punch the dough down and set it aside for another 10 minutes to rise again.
The filling is simply the sugar, nuts and spice mixed together.
To assemble, take a small piece of the dough and flatten into a circle large enough to cover the palm of your hand. The dough is quite sticky so use plenty of extra flour to dust your hands and work surface. Place a heaped spoonful of the filling into the middle of the dough. Fold the edges into the middle and pinch together to form a ball. Heat some of the oil in a frypan. Place the ball into the pan and press to flatten. There is a specialised gadget called a Hotteok press for this job. I improvised by using a potato masher covered with some aluminium foil and lightly oiled. When the bottom of the pancake has browned flip over, press again, and cook until golden. Remove from the frypan and place on some paper towel to absorb any excess oil. The filling is quite hot so please be careful!
*The original peanut and sugar filling is absolutely delicious but certainly experiment with your favourite fillings. Of the other fillings I tried I liked the dark chocolate and diced dried plums the best. If you are going to be using chocolate I recommend that you either very finely chop or grate the chocolate. If the pieces are too large they may pierce the dough as it is being pressed. The chocolate will then ooze out as it melts and then burn in the oil!
Also, this dough and cooking method works equally well with savoury fillings as well. A dignified and tasty end for a variety of leftovers.