54th post: Korean dish. Difficulty level: beginner.

I truly have always believed this: one of the best ways to learn about other cultures  is by learning to cook their dishes. That was how I started cooking German dishes.

There are culinary benefits to exposing ourselves beyond what we know, when it comes to cooking. My background in cooking any Korean dishes is very minimal. Stir-frying frozen Bulgogi Beef from the local Korean grocer store and cooking noodles in black bean sauce from a package were my furthest extent with Korean cuisine. Here is my challenge: a lot of the ingredients are written in Korean only. I can read Chinese, but Korean is a different story. So, I joined this Korean potluck group. Little did I know that it is mandatory for Korean men to join the military.

To my pleasant surprise, I was able to find a Korean recipe that is pantry-friendly and budget-friendly. I credit the hobakjeon recipe to Maangchi.com.

butternut squash

Wash, Peel, Scoop/De-seed. Then, slice width-wise, then slice vertically against the fallen slices to create a match-stick or julienne cut.

Boy, I have never had so many squashes and zucchini cut julienne. I couldn’t quite manage the flip like Ms Maangchi, but some day I’ll uncover the elusive secret of flipping without a spatula.

I would say that the zucchini version is the easiest to make, but the butternut squash version is much tastier. Typically, you would prep the butter-nut squash version first if you are doing both.

Zucchini version:

1 1/2 cups julienne-cut zucchini
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Drizzle of Sesame Oil, just before flipping

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. In a medium-high heat non-stick pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil. When the pan is ready and warm, spoon all the batter onto the pan and push down with the back of a spoon. Let it sizzle until the bottom is golden-brown. During this sizzling process, add Sesame Oil on top. When the sizzle gets louder and you see bubbles, it is almost time to flip! (I use spatula and it’s okay if it gets broken apart. The pancake is for sharing anyway)

Dipping Sauce

Soy sauce, vinegar, chili, garlic and onion

Soy sauce, vinegar, chili, garlic and onion

3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 de-seeded green chilli (the only ones I could find are baby green chilies; these are hot, hot, hot!)
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp purple onion or shallots
1 tbsp vinegar

Butter-nut Squash Hobakjeon:
About 2 cups of julienne-cut squash
Add 1/4 tsp salt and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. The squash will become moist, so no water is needed.
Add 3 to 4 tablespoons flour. This will hold the pancake together.. (unless you were wanting butternut-squash julienne fries!) I added about a total of 4 as 3 didn’t seem to hold the squash together.

I used olive oil to fry the butter-nut squash pancake, pressing down with the back of the spatula to create a shape. Flip when bottom is sizzling golden brown.

Was my first-try good? Well, there was no polite “Mm, this is good!” It was nearly gone at the end of potluck, so it is passable. I definitely would make more of these for easy snacks and appetizers.

Presentation was definitely not a winner, but it tastes okay:



Next up: 55th-post is slurp fest as I will be making noodle dough from scratch using a birthday gift (pastry board) and my pasta-machine.