"You do realize," said my sweetie as we both sat down at the dining room table, "this meal is vegan."
I hadn't until she mentioned it. The inspiration for the meal had been from two sources: first, borrowing Quick & Easy Korean Cooking from the library; and second, it being 4/20 meant that we didn't want to go near the market which limited us to ingredients on hand. Korean green onion pancakes only require nine ingredients, of which six are pantry staples for me, so that recipe suited nicely (and is below).
One doesn't think of Korean food as particularly vegan-friendly — quite the opposite, really — but that's because Americans are most familiar with Korean barbecue, rather than the rest of their cuisine. Cecilia Hae Jin Lee does an excellent job presenting the kind of recipes which a regular working Korean would cook at home, on a weeknight. This includes a lot of vegetable dishes.
And, from my perspective, this is the essence of good vegan — or vegetarian, or whatever — cooking: don't substitute. Don't use wierd foods which don't go together. Instead cook things which are tasty but just happen to be vegan; there are plenty of them out there.
And, at least, it wasn't gluten-free.
Korean green onion pancakes
based on a recipe from Quick & Easy Korean Cooking
1 1/2 cups all-purpose wheat flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
2 cups cold water, maybe more
8 green onions
1 small-medium zucchini
1 large carrot
vegetable oil, at least 8 tsp.
Slice the green onions on the bias into 1-inch pieces, both white and green parts. Grate the zucchini. Peel and grate the carrot.
Mix the flours, salt and pepper. Add the cold water and stir. Add more water until you can get it the consistency of thin pancake batter or cream (and like pancake batter, don't over-stir it). Mix in the vegetables.
Turn on the oven to low heat (200F) or heat up a warming drawer if you have one.
Heat a 9" nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with about 2 tsp vegetable oil. Spoon out enough batter to cover the bottom thinly, about 1/4 of the batter. Fry until the bottom of the pancake sets and bubbles start to come through, about 4-5 minutes.
Flip the pancake using whatever method works for you; I suggest an extra-large plastic spatula. Fry on the other side until browned and beginning to scorch, about 4 minutes.
Flip back over and finish browning the other side. Flip the pancake onto a baking sheet and put it in the oven to keep warm.
Make 3 more pancakes. Serve them with seasoned soy sauce, gochujang (Korean hot sauce), and kim chee. Serves four as a main course (these are filling), with inari (which the Koreans like also) and salad.