Friday, December 26, 2014

Korean Seafood Pancakes

Last Year's Post: Spanakopita
Two Years Ago:  Chorizo and Mushroom Fideua

I can't seem to get enough Korean food lately.  I love the bold, clean flavors and particularly like adapting heavy recipes to be lighter but with the same flavor profile (for example, substituting ground turkey for beef in Korean Sliders).  I was attracted to these Korean Seafood Pancakes because they're already light and make a fast and easy (but exotic) weekday dinner.  The other thing that I liked was that this recipe is adapted to use ingredients commonly available in American grocery stores so I didn't have to go buy special items at the Asian market  (which I like to do, but there's a limit to how much stuff I can fit in the pantry).

Start to finish, they take maybe 30 minutes at most, and 10 minutes of that is spent prepping the vegetables into thin and pretty slivers, making the dipping sauce, and prepping the shrimp.

After prepping the vegetables and mixing a simple batter, all that's left is to cook each pancake for about 4 minutes.  You can keep the cooked pancakes warm on a plate in the oven, or serve them at room temperature - they're equally good both ways.  The pancakes may tear somewhat as you flip them, but don't worry - you'll cut the pancakes up for dipping anyway.

My favorite part is that you can use all shrimp, or substitute part or all of the shrimp with lump crab or lobster meat.  If you decide to add lobster, take the raw meat out of a lobster tail and cut it into relatively thin pieces similar to the shrimp so they'll cook at the same rate.  The pancakes cook for 3 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other, which is enough time to cook the thin seafood pieces completely.

Don't be scared by the amount of jalapeno.  The first time I made the sauce, I cut the jalapeno in half just to be safe, and the sauce wasn't even remotely spicy - I needed both jalapenos to give it a kick.  However, jalapenos can vary widely in their heat, so my advice is to taste the dipping sauce with one jalapeno and then add the second as needed.

printable recipe
Korean Seafood Pancakes
Serves 4

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 ¾ cups water
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 large green onions, halved crosswise and cut into very thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into very thin strips
1 large jalapeno, halved, cored and seeded, cut into very thin strips
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved lengthwise (or substitute lump crab or lobster meat pieces for all or part of the shrimp)

For the Dipping Sauce
½ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 green onions, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 ½ teaspoons toasted Asian sesame oil

To make the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch and salt.  Whisk the egg with the water, then whisk into the flour mixture until smooth.

In an 8-inch non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add one quarter each of the green onions, red pepper and jalapeno.  Add one quarter of the shrimp, scattering them evenly in the pan.  Pour about 1/3 cup of the batter evenly over everything, tilting the pan to spread it.  Cook until the bottom is browned, about 3 minutes.

Using a large spatula, carefully flip the pancake (don’t worry if it tears) and cook on the other side for about 60 seconds, until lightly browned.  Slide the pancake onto a plate and make 3 more pancakes in the same way.

Cut into quarters (or medium pieces) and serve with the dipping sauce.

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