24 February 2017

Goes well with hangovers

When I was a graduate student at Indiana University, my Korean friend would take me to the only Korean restaurant in town (no doubt one of very few in the entire state) and, while pointing out all of the inauthenticities, treat me to Pa Jun, the lovely, comforting savory pancake filled with bits of vegetables and meats and served with a fun dipping sauce.  It was meant to soak up all the leftover alcohol in our systems after overindulging (I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues at the IU School of Music for teaching me just how much I could drink without puking), and I still have fond memories of hazy Saturdays slowly downing Pa Jun and trying to recall embarrassing things I said to cool string players and composers the night before.  Now, in my much more boring (but also more stable and happy) life as a 40-something musician who cooks a lot, I adore Pa Jun as a fun way to use up leftover bits of veggies, meat scraps, and yes, even tiny bits of tofu littering the fridge. 

Pa Jun

Serevs 4

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoons sugar, optional
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour or rice flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup very finely chopped vegetables asparagus, broccoli, green beans, scallions or chopped cooked leftover meat chicken, beef, pork or both

For dipping sauce: In a small bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar (if using) and red pepper flakes. Mix well and set aside.

For pancakes:  Place a small (6- to 8-inch) nonstick or well-seasoned skillet over medium-low heat. Coat bottom with vegetable oil and allow to heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs just until frothy. Add flour and salt and whisk to combine. Add vegetables or meat and stir to blend. Add 1 cup cold water and mix again to blend.

Fill a 1/2-cup measuring cup with batter; pour into hot pan. Allow to sit until browned and crispy on bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip pancake and cook another 2 minutes. Place on a serving plate and keep warm (or set aside to serve at room temperature). Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with dipping sauce, tearing or cutting off pieces of pancake to dip in sauce with fingers or chopsticks.

Also goes great with drinking: shinjaga shouyu bataa!  Think of this as the Japanese version of Spanish/Cuban patatas bravas--just a simple dish of potato chunks with a little seasoning.  These are traditionally new potatoes dressed only with soy sauce and butter (a remarkably wonderful combination you can use on any and all cooked vegetables, by the way), but I like the addition of cilantro and peanuts, and of course, lime juice is fantastic over just about everything. You can easily whip these up after a night out, offer to friends with their beers, or just treat them as a respectable app or side in the light of day. There they are with Pa Jun, above!

Potatoes with butter and soy sauce

Serves 4 as a side

3-4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Coarsely ground black pepper 
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped peanuts
lime wedges for serving

Put the potatoes in a pot with water to cover; add salt (the water should taste almost as salty as sea water). Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and keep int the pot. Add the butter and soy sauce and mix. Once the butter is melted, stir in the cilantro and peanuts and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the top.