Brown Rice Kimchijeon (+ Brown Rice Flour!)

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One of the first dishes I tried in Korea was jeon—a savoury stuffed pancake dish native to the peninsula. Though deemed “pancake” by Western eyes, jeon often focuses more on the filling than its glutinous vehicle, with its tasty innards often spilling out the sides. Usually served as banchan, or “side dish”, jeon comes in many forms and flavors—as pajeon, or green onion pancake, saengseonjeon, a variety stuffed with seafood, bindaetteok, made with mung beans and veggies, and many more—but according to my tastebuds (and fervor for anything kimchi), the ace of cakes here is clearly kimchijeon (김치전)—which is, of course, kimchi pancake. Tinted with that familiar crimson hue so pleasantly ubiquitous in Korean cuisine, kimchijeon takes both the flavor and texture from Korea’s favorite fermented cabbage dish, mellowing its spicy and sour tones with wheat flour and salty dipping sauce.

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Personally, I like to work wheat-free as often as possible, so it’s only natural I took this traditional recipe and gave it a more tummy-friendly take. In keeping with the Korean theme, this recipe uses homemade brown rice flour (which is faster to make at home than pick up from the shelf at the store, though its easy to find in-store or online) instead of wheat flour, and word from my wonderful taste testers’ mouths is that the gluten was not missed. I added some chopped green onion for a little extra kick and also for that familiar pajeon flavour (does anyone else live off of Chinese green onion cakes during Heritage Days?).

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Rice and kimchi are the ultimate Korean staple—and here, they are reimagined as a tasty break from routine. And this recipe ummm, really takes the cake.

To make the rice flour, you need a food processor or high speed blender (or flour mill, if you have one!). Make sure your equipment is bone-dry. Measure out your rice (do it in small-ish batches, no more than 2 cups at a time) and grind it in your food processor, switching between the “high” and “pulse” setting until you have a very fine grain. According to the very reliable internet, in most food processors or high speed blenders this should take about five minutes, in my crazy jet-engine food processor it took about one. Huzzah!

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If you don’t use it immediately, store the flour in a tightly-sealed container and keep refrigerated.

And now for the main event:

Brown Rice Kimchijeon (gluten-free, vegetarian or can be made vegan, soy-free, nut-free)

Makes about 12 3-inch wide pancakes

Adapted from Girl Cooks World

Ingredients:

2 cups rice flour

1/2 cup potato starch

2 teaspoons salt

2 eggs (or equivalent egg alternative for binding)

1 cup water

1 small head of cabbage’s worth of kimchi cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces, plus the kimchi “juice” from the container

10 green onions, cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces

1-2 tbsp Korean red pepper powder (optional, to taste)

Coconut oil for frying (or oil of choice)


Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, starch, and salt. Beat in the eggs and water until combined (note: the batter should be quite thick). Mix in the chopped kimchi, kimchi “juice”, green onions, and red pepper powder, if desired.

In a frying pan over medium heat, heat up the coconut oil. Use a ladle to make round, 3-inch wide pancakes. Flip when golden brown.

Serve immediately, with the following dipping sauce:

Two parts soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos

Two parts water

One part vinegar (I used brown rice vinegar)

Chopped green onions and/or sesame seeds, for garnish

**Note: Most Korean restaurants will serve a giant, full frying-pan size jeon with scissors for the table to cut and share. If your frying and flipping skills are apt for that, go for it. Otherwise scissors, a pizza cutter, or a plain old kitchen knife will help you cut the jeon into easily-servable strips.

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Rice Milk: Riches from (Dish) Rags

It’s been a banner Lunar New Year so far.

Luke got food poisoning. I got head lice. (Who gets head lice?!) We had a nice run-in with some soju swaggin’ Koreans and some near-nasty repercussions. Our school closed down. Our school closed down! I guess it is, as they say, the Year of the Snake. We’ll be taking a pay cut for the next little while, but things could always be worse.

We still have jobs for the duration of our original contract here in Korea. We can keep our little, cozy apartment. Nobody got arrested or deported. I don’t have any little pests crawling through my hair, and Luke’s internal organs are in the clear. Also, I learned how to make rice milk.

Taking a temporary pay cut wasn’t in our original plans, but it looks now it’s part of the challenge to keep saving for our upcoming trip. We’ve been looking for ways to cut back, and one of the easiest ways to do so is to make do with what you have (right, dad?).

For example, we have rice. And lots of it.

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I do love my hyun-me bap and it’s sure a nutritionally sound alternative to the usual choice grain here, it’s bleached-out brother (see: my earlier post on its bountiful benefits), but man—nor woman—can live on rice alone. Faced with a barrel of the brown stuff, I decided to transform my grains into something a little more practical: rice milk.

Almonds aren’t cheap on this continent and I generally try and steer clear of soy, so my non-dairy milk options here are pretty limited. Thankfully, rice is everywhere, cheap, and organic is pretty easy to find. Perhaps if you head up to your local Koreatown or Chinatown you’ll find the same? If you’re on a tight budget of your own, maybe this trick will benefit you like it has me and my belly 🙂

Here’s the how-to:

1. Soak 2 cups of rice overnight and rinse well.

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2. In your food processor or blender, blend the rice with 4 cups of filtered water (If you want more or less, just stick with a 1:2 ratio and you’ll be fine).
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3. Use a nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or, in a pinch, a clean dishcloth or fine mesh strainer to separate the pulp from the liquid. (See my tutorial on almond milk for technique and photos.)

4. (OptionalRinse out your blender or food processor, pour the liquid back in and blend any combination of: 1 tsp. vanilla extract, a pinch of sea salt, a pitted date or some agave, or even cacao powder to make chocolate rice milk.
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5. (Also optional, but highly recommended!) Save your rice “grits” to make porridge–cover one cup of the rice pulp with water in a pot, stir in your favorite oatmeal ingredients (I like cinnamon, vanilla, and chopped medjool dates), bring to a boil and simmer, covered, till the water is absorbed. Add in a splash of your fresh rice milk and bask in your incredible utilitarianism.
IMG_3801I’ve been freezing batches of my rice grits in single-serving portions to cook up for quick breakfasts—one benefit of only having a hot plate to cook on is that I can get my grits boiling in under a minute… a benefit, so long as I can avoid burning said grits immediately after 😉 Maybe you’ve better luck than I? Feel free to share your experiences below!

Until then, enjoy and annyeong ka-sey-oh!

Double Dark Chocolate Cacao Chip Brownies with Coconut-Vanilla Icing

Some of the world’s best inventions are by accident.

Post-it notes. Popsicles. These brownies.

In cleaning out my kitchen for an upcoming move (more about which I will share soon), I’ve been emptying my cabinets and trying to creatively use all my ingredients. There were a few flops, a few recipe makeovers, and then there were these.

I tried to make some chocolate granola bars to bring road-trippin this week. But the granola bars were just too good. So good, I decided to slather them with icing, thus converting them from health-snack status to divine, decadent desserts.

Scrumptious, sweet, satiating, and shareable. Very, very shareable. So shareable I had to take them into work, and then bring them on my road trip to ensure all of my friends were able to sample these little delights, and couldn’t take proper pictures at home. So shareable that I had to share them with you.

Double Dark Chocolate Cacao Chip Brownies with Coconut-Vanilla Icing (raw, vegan, gluten-free)

For the brownies:

Ingredients:

Start by making date paste: In a food processor, combine 3/4 cup pitted medjool dates and 2 tbsp filtered water, adding more water and combining as long as needed to achieve a nutella-like consistency. (Optional: combine in this mixture 1 tbsp bee pollen. 1 tbsp sprouted flax, 1 tbsp hemp or chia seeds, 1 tbsp maca… it’s easy to sneak a few superfood goodies in here!) Date paste acts as a great fruit-based sweetener and binding agent, and if you make extra it can be saved in the fridge.

Leave the date paste in the food processor and then add:

1/2 cup cup walnuts

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

1 cup oats (I used gluten-free)

3/4 cup cacao powder

1/4 cup coconut oil

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in the food processor until the “dough” starts clumping together and forming a large ball. Transfer out of food processor and press dough into a pyrex tray, flattening with hands.

For the vanilla frosting:

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut butter

1/4 cup agave or honey

2 tbsp vanilla

dash of sea salt

Directions:

Make a “double boiler” by placing coconut butter in a small bowl and placing the bowl of coconut butter in a tub of hot water. Stir the coconut butter to aid its melting—it should be pudding-like, not runny. Stir in the agave, vanilla and sea salt, and while the mixture is still hot spread evenly over the top of the brownie base. Sprinkle with cacao powder and store in the fridge so the coconut butter doesn’t melt. Mine made 20 small square brownies.

These are dense and quite filling which is why I highly suggest them for sharing! Or, if you want some bite-sized goodies for later, do the opposite—put the icing at the bottom of a shot glass and top with brownie base. Put in the fridge for a few hours and pop out of the glass with a knife when you are ready to eat—brownie thimbles!