Korean Potato Pancakes

Posted on

I grew up eating kotlet, the ubiquitous Iranian potato and meat cutlets that make every picnic (or elementary school lunch) complete. The crispy-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside patties were full of wholesome ingredients but almost decadent enough to feel like I was eating French fries. Almost.

These salty, starchy Korean potato pancakes evoke a similar feeling. And just like kotlet, they pack well for on-the-go lunches or picnics. I serve them with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and vinegar for an extra tang.

Gamjajeon (potato pancakes)

Ingredients:

1 pound russet potatoes, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
2 green onions, sliced
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

1. Coarsely chop the potatoes and put in a food processor. Add the salt and water and process until pureed.

2. Scrape the potato puree into a mesh strainer and set over a bowl. Press down on it gently with a spoon and let stand for 1 minute to allow the starchy liquid to drain into the bowl.

3. Transfer the drained potato puree to another bowl and let the starch in the drained liquid settle to the bottom of the bowl, then pour off the liquid and scrape the starch into the potato puree. Add the green onions and mix.

4. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add vegetable oil to the pan and gently drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the potato batter into the pain and spread into 2-inch discs with the back of the spoon. Cook until the bottoms of the pancakes are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until the other sides are crisp and golden, about 3 more minutes, adding more vegetable oil as necessary. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.

5. To make the dipping sauce, combine soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Serve the sauce with the warm pancakes.

Sri Lankan Chicken Curry

Posted on

I find myself comparing Sri Lankan food to Iranian food all the time as I learn to cook the former. It’s so similar and yet entirely different. Chicken curry is typically associated with South Asian cuisine, but Iranians have khoresh-e kari, a Persian curry that is milder than its South Asian counterparts.

I wondered about the origins of that khoresh as I learned to cook this curry. How did curry make its way to Iran? How did it make its way to Sri Lanka? Where did curry originate? Wikipedia says curry was adopted and anglicised from the Tamil word kari meaning “sauce”, which is usually understood to mean vegetables and/or meat cooked with spices with or without a gravy. I’m fascinated by food, migration, and its intersections.

But back to this chicken curry. It’s easy to cook and reheats wonderfully. Served alongside rice and some pickled vegetables or yogurt, it makes a satiating meal.

Sri Lankan chicken curry

Ingredients:

3 pounds skinless bone-in chicken thighs
3 tablespoons roasted curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2-inch piece ginger, chopped
1 or 2 sprigs curry leaves
3-inch stalk lemongrass
3 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup coconut milk
salt
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste

1. Place chicken in a bowl with curry powder, cayenne powder, and vinegar. Mix well and set aside for at least 2 hours and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

2. In a large pot, heat oil. Add onions, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, lemongrass, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. Saute until onions are golden brown.

3. Add chicken pieces, stirring occasionally until chicken is browned.

4. Add 1/2 cup water to the bowl that contained the chicken and mix to catch any remaining marinade and add to the pot. Lower heat to medium, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, being careful not to burn the chicken and adding a little more water if necessary.

5. Stir in coconut milk and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

6. Stir in tomato paste and simmer for 2 minutes.

Parippu

Posted on

Parippu is to Sri Lankan cuisine as adasi is to Iranian cuisine. They’re both lentil stews, but the difference is all in the seasonings.

I grew up with adasi, redolent with garlic, onions, turmeric, and angelica powder. These days, I’ve developed a taste for parippu, which soaks up the flavors of coconut milk, lemongrass, curry leaves, and chiles. This is comfort food at its finest. Best of all, it tastes even better the next day.

Parippu

Ingredients:

    1/2 pound red lentils
    2 cups water
    1 onion, chopped
    2 green chiles, sliced
    2 cloves garlic, sliced
    1/8 teaspoon pandanus/pandan leaf extract (optional)
    2-inch stalk lemongrass
    1 cinnamon stick
    1 cardamom pod
    1 clove
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
    1/2 cup coconut milk
    salt
    1 sprig curry leaves
    1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
    2 dry red chiles

1. Wash and drain lentils.

2. Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add lentils, half of the onion, green chiles, garlic, pandanus extract, lemongrass, cinnamon stick, cardamom pod, clove, and turmeric. Cover and simmer until lentils are soft, about 25 minutes.

3. Add coconut milk and salt. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. In another pan, heat oil for tempering. Saute onions and curry leaves until onions are translucent. Add mustard seeds and dry red chiles. Fry until mustard seeds begin to pop, about 1 or 2 minutes. Pour over lentils and mix well.

Sri Lankan Beef Curry

Posted on

This fiery curry is colossal. Left overnight to meld flavors and reheated the next day, it’s perfection alongside a plate of basmati rice and cooling yogurt.

Make sure to allow the meat enough time to marinate and adjust the amount of cayenne pepper depending on your heat tolerance. If spicy curries are your thing, go to town. My spice tolerance used to be pathetically low, but with practice, I’ve gained a respectable ability craving for heat. If I can do it, so can you.

Sri Lankan beef curry

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons roasted curry powder
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 pounds sirloin beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2-inch piece ginger, finely grated or minced
2 green serrano or Thai chiles, sliced
1 sprig curry leaves
2-inch stalk lemongrass
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
2 cloves
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt

1. Lightly toast curry powder and fenugreek seeds in a small pan. Mix with beef, cayenne pepper, paprika, and vinegar and marinate overnight.

2. Heat oil in pan. Saute onions, garlic, ginger, green chiles, curry leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves until onions are translucent.

3. Add marinated beef and fry for several minutes, turning occasionally, until beef is browned.

4. Add 1/4 cup water to the marinating bowl to release the remaining spice mixture and add to pan. Add remaining water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Add coconut milk, salt, and tomato paste and simmer, partially covered, for an additional 40 minutes, until curry is thick.

Kongnamul (Bean Sprout Banchan)

Posted on

I can’t get enough banchans or jjigaes or kimchis to save my life. Seriously, I’ve been known to stress eat kimchi straight out of the jar. No kimchi? No problem. I’ll go straight for the leftover banchans laying around in the fridge. It doesn’t help that many of my favorite banchans, or Korean side dishes, are so easy to prepare. This bean sprout banchan is one of the most common. I actually prefer them after they’ve marinated in their seasoning for a few hours.

Kongnamul (bean sprout banchan)

Ingredients:

1 pound soybean sprouts
salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 green onion, chopped
1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes, optional)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1. Put the soybean sprouts in a bowl and cover with water. Gently clean and pick out any dead beans. Drain.

2. Transfer the bean sprouts to a large saucepan. Add 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the beans are cooked. Drain and set aside in a bowl to cool slightly. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the rest of the ingredients to the bean sprouts and mix gently with your hands. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.