This month Featured Writer Steve Miller is taking a look at some of Korea’s incredible street food. Last week he introduced the popular topokki treat that is found nearly everywhere in Korea. This week Steve ventures into Seoul’s Kwangjang Market to sample one of his favorite street foods that isn’t found as often as others: bindaettoek (빈대떡).
When many think of Korean street food, bindaetteok isn’t one that really rolls off the tongue. In fact, when I was discussing the topic with my friends, I asked what were some of their favorites. All the usual suspects were stated: topokki, hotteok, hot dogs, egg bread, etc. No one mentioned bindaetteok, and that’s a shame, because it is awesome.
Bindaetteok (also nokdujeon or nokdu jijim; meaning “mung bean pancake”) is a variety of jeon, a Korean pancake. Like other Korean pancakes, a batter is prepared and then fried on a skillet. As you can see from the image above, Gwangjang Market is one of the best places in Seoul to check out this treat, because several restaurants are dedicated to this tasty morsel. At times, lines for some of the restaurants are several deep and one can find themselves waiting over an hour just for a takeaway pancake.
Bindaetteok first appeared under the name binjatteok (빈자떡) in the Eumsik dimibang (음식디미방), a cooking encyclopedia written in the 1670s by Lady Jang (張氏, 1598-1680), the wife of a public officer. The dish was originally prepared by frying a mixture of water-soaked and ground mung beans, pork, bracken fern, mung bean sprouts, and cabbage kimchi (Korean Food Series (5th Issue)). Traditionally, honey sweetens the mixture and meat was put on top of the bindaetteok. Wealthy people at the time were able to afford more meat and poorer individuals ate only the bindaetteok, leading to the namebindaebyeong, or poor person’s pancake.
How to make bindaetteok
- ½ Generous Cup Well-fermented Kimchi
- ¼ Cup Green Onion
- ¼ Cup Fresh Mung Bean Sprouts
- ¼ Cup Fern Brake, Soaked
- ½ Cup Dried Peeled Mung Beans
- ¼ Cup Water
- ½ tsp Salt
- ¼ Cup Ground Pork
- ½ tsp Sesame Oil
- ½ tsp Cooking Wine (Optional)
- ½ tsp Garlic, Minced
- 2 Pinches Salt
- 2 Pinches Black Pepper
- 1 Dash Ginger Powder
Soak ½ cup of dried mung beans in water for about 6 hours. This yields approximately 1 cup of soaked mung beans.
Once the beans are ready, combine the following ingredients to marinade the pork: ¼ cup ground pork, ½ tsp sesame oil, ½ tsp cooking wine (optional), ½ tsp minced garlic, 2 pinches salt, 2 pinches black pepper, and 1 dash ginger powder. Set aside.
Chop ½ cup worth of kimchi, ¼ cup worth of fresh mung bean sprout, and ¼ cup worth of soaked fern brake into small bite sized pieces. Finely chop ¼ cup of green onions.
Rinse the soaked mung beans several times and then drain. Place the soaked mung beans in a blender and add ¼ cup of water. Blend for one minute on high speed, or until smooth.
Next, combine all the chopped vegetables, marinated pork, and ½ tsp salt with the batter. Thoroughly mix.
On a generously oiled skillet or pan, spread the mixture out in a circle to your desired size. To get the characteristic crispy outer layer, it is important to have enough oil in your pan. Fry both sides on medium heat until golden brown.
Bindaetteok is one of the best street foods out there and if you haven’t had it yet, be sure to give it a try. Steve will be back next week with a new street food. Until then, what’s your favorite style of pancake?