This morning, the sun’s golden rays graced New York City with the first true day of Spring. Donning a summer dress & flip flops, I pranced out of my apartment eager for the first taste of 75+degree weather. As I took in the sights of scarlet red tulips, golden daffodils, and pretty-in-pink magnolias blossoming all around us, I stared in amazement at this seemingly sudden arrival of Spring. Surely this transformation didn’t happen overnight, but when one has been as absorbed in work as I have been in the past few weeks, it’s easy to let the world slip past you in the blink of an eye.
It was at that moment when I decided to reclaim the balance in my life, to make sure that I pay proper attention to things I love and enjoy – cooking up a storm, blogging up a bigger storm, curling up with a good book, and taking the time to just be.
My balance comes from my freedom to unleash my creativity, to draw inspiration from things I see, hear, smell, and taste, and create something that I can call my own. So it is with the same explorer’s attitude that I cook up this Korean-Mexican fusion with Korean Pajeon pancakes, and Latin-flavored fillings and sauce. The flavors are nothing foreign to me, but the combination of smoky, spicy veggie fillings wrapped inside a rice-flour crepe-like pancake instead of the usual corn-flour tortilla introduced a new refreshing twist to an old favorite.
This is a 3 part recipe, which may seem daunting and complicated at first glance, but once you get the prep work out of the way, it’s very straightforward and easy to put together.
For the Pancake:
- Instant Korean Pajeon pancake mix – follow directions on measurements of mix + water
- Or if you have time, 1/2 cup allpurpose flour, 1/2 cup rice flour, 3/4 c seltzer water, 1 egg, salt & pepper. (Notes: The rice flour gives it that transparency and lighter texture, the seltzer water makes it fluffier – found this tip from various bloggers and the kitchn)
- a small bunch of scallions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cucumber, shredded
- 1/2 carrot, shredded
- 1 handful of cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp of soy sauce, more or less depending on your taste
Directions: Mix the batter together until well integrated and texture is smooth. Throw in the veggies and herbs, soy sauce, and in batches, spoon out batter onto an oiled frying pan. Spread out batter so it is about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick, turn heat to medium-low and when batter sticks together, flip to the other side and cook until pancake is crispy and gives off a golden brown hue.
For the Veggie Filling:
- 1 pkg of cremini or portabella mushrooms, sliced about 1/4 inch (you can play around with different varieties like shitake, chinese black, button, enoki, morel and oyster)
- 2-3 medium sized carrots, peeled and diced roughly 1/2 inches thick
- 2-3 medium sized zucchinis, diced into 1/2 inch thick medallions
- 1 bell pepper (red, green, orange, or yellow), cut into strips that are about 2 inches in length and 1/2 inch in width
- 14 oz can of diced tomatos
- 1-2 handful of Morningstar Veggie crumbles (this is optional, but I love the texture they add)
- Salt & pepper
- A pinch of the following dried herbs: Rosemary, Oregano, Parsley, Basil
Directions: Saute the veggies, starting with carrots, which are the hardest to cook. At this time, I also add in the diced tomatoes to help flavor the carrots. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, then add bell peppers and cook for about 2-3 more minutes, then add the zucchini, mushrooms, and veggie crumbles last. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, adding in salt, pepper and herbs until veggies are cooked through and well-flavored
- 1 can of Chipotle en Adobo sauce (you won’t need to use it all)
- 8 oz can of tomato sauce
- 1-2 tsp paprika
- 1 dash of champagne vinegar
Directions: Take out 1-2 chipotles out of the can of chipotle en adobo sauce (plus a few spoonfuls of the thick sauce itself). I find these extremely spicy so you should only need a couple to get that smoke and spice into the sauce. Finely chop the chipotle, or process in a small food processor. Mix it into the tomato sauce, add paprika and the vinegar and mix well.
Putting it all together:
Option 1: Spoon in the filling into the pajeon pancake, roll it up and place it upside down on a dish, repeat until you fill an entire casserole dish, drizzle with the chipotle sauce
Option 2: (My preference because it’s more fun) Lay a piece of the pajeon pancake on a plate, fill will the veggie filling, drizzle with the chipotle sauce, and then roll it up like a burrito and eat right away