Oct 18, 2015

FOOD that can be a religious experience!

Good cooking to me is a balance of tastes, textures, and colors that stimulate the eye, the appetite, and the senses, but do not overpower one another. It's important to plan a meal so that the foods served compliment one another. It's sort of like a church choir, a melodious blend of musical notes that lead to a religious experience. I've had many religious experiences with food. So what's your favorite food, ask yourself why, then build on it.

I certainly don't consider myself a food expert, however I do like to eat and write about my food experiences. It's important to know what you like and don't like to eat because there are a lot of food choices out there, something for everyone if you have an open mind. For example I'm not fond of food that is so spicy that all you can taste is pain. Korean, Chinese, and other Asian countries fall into that category, as well as Mexican and Caribbean food, with their fiery hot dishes. I like to taste the food I am eating. I don't like food that is overly spiced either. I think Indian food falls into that category. 

So why do countries add so much heat and spice to their foods? My guess is that originally these countries had very few ways to preserve food, so they covered up the rotten ingredients with hot peppers and bold spices. Eventually they got used to eating hot and spicy food. 

We all have to eat whether we like it or not, so it makes sense to take advantage of as many foods as you can, and not be afraid to try new things. I hope my mother-in-law reads this because she is not a food person.

Here is a simple little recipe that I like to serve with almost any meal. A fried flatbread with the flavor of scallions from Korea. Try it... who knows, you might have a religious experience.


Korean Scallion Flatbread  (Pa Jun)
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Many countries have their own flatbreads, like Naan, Roti, or Chapati from India, Mexican tortillas, or the Navajo Indians flatbread. Some are fried, and some are cooked in the oven. Some have baking powder and some don't. They are all simple, pillowy soft bread, used to soak up all of the sauce left on your plate, or to wrap around some tasty tidbit. 

'Pa' is the Korean word for scallion and 'jun' (or jeon) means any food that is coated in a batter and pan-fried. You can use other ingredients to the Pan Jun like garlic, red chili peppers, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and kimchi are also popular Korean fillings. 

This recipe is easy to make, and is always a crowd-pleaser, but it's important to keep them warm in a basket covered with a tea towel until you're ready to serve them. Sometimes I like to use them, instead of tortillas, to make fish tacos... yummy!

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups water
6 scallions, green tops only, halved and cut into 2 inch lengths, about 1 1/2 cups
1 teaspoon salt
Canola or peanut oil for frying

Procedure:
Mix all ingredients together and let sit for about 10 minutes. Check consistency before cooking – batter should be a little runnier than pancake batter, so that the Pa Jun cooks quickly and evenly.

Pour batter into a heated skillet in a thin layer. I use a small 6 inch iron skillet. It's important to quickly spread the batter with the bottom of a spoon or ladle because the batter will set up.

Cook for 3-4 minutes until set and golden brown on bottom (see photo). Turn over with the help of a spatula and cook 1-2 minutes more, adding more oil if necessary. Serve whole or cut into wedges.

Serve with soy or spicy dipping sauce (recipe below) as a snack, appetizer, or side dish to a Korean or Asian meal. Makes about 9, 6 inch Pa Jun.

Note: If you have leftovers, Pa Jun freezes well. Just slip them into a zip-lock freezer bag and freeze for later use. Then simply let them defrost and warm them in a 200˚F oven for about 20 minutes. Naturally you can leave out the onions and use this flatbread recipe as you would a crepe. Top them with a fruit filling. They are very versatile, and they do what you tell them.

You might be interested in a Chinese version of this recipe using leeks instead of scallions. Click here for that recipe, or visit the "Recipe Index" tab above for other flatbread recipes.


Spicy, But Not Too Spicy, Dipping Sauce
The Koreans like to dip their Pa Jun in this spicy dipping sauce.

Ingredients:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chili pepper flakes or Sriracha sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Simply mix everything together and serve as a dipping sauce with scallion flat bread, pot sticker dumplings, or tempura dishes. Makes about 1 cup.

For an easy vegan, yeast and gluten-free flatbread recipe, click here.


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