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Chef Renée’s Korean-style pumpkin pancakes

No tricks, all treats – carve out a time to make this savoury snack before winter comes.

Korean-style pumpkin pancakes with fried egg

Image courtesy of AGO

By Renée Bellefeuille, AGO Executive Chef

Oh, the gourds I know! As we, here in Ontario, cling to the end of autumn, it is the perfect moment to salute the last of the harvest holdouts. Technically a fruit, universally considered a vegetable, pumpkins and squash are long season crops, able to withstand temperatures as low as minus two in the field, making them perfectly in season now until the hard frost. 

Although all pumpkins and squash originated in the Americas, they are now an international food. In Korea, pumpkins are used in a number of dishes, including pumpkin porridge (Hobakjuk, 호박죽), which is known for reducing swelling after surgery, and pumpkin pancakes ( 늙은 호박전 neulgun hobak jeon), which translates to “the aged pumpkin pancakes.” These sweet/savoury fritter-like pumpkin pancakes come alive when topped with a tangy dipping sauce, or paired with a fried egg.

PS: Beyond being a delicious and versatile food, pumpkins are nutritious and linked too many health benefits. They are one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene a powerful antioxidant that gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant colour.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Yield 10 pancakes

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

450 grams (or 1 lb) pumpkin, kabocha or buttercup squash, seeded and peeled

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 medium-sized red onion, finely sliced

1 green chili, finely diced, (de-seed if you are worried about spice level)

1/2 to 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the dipping sauce:

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/2 green chili, seeded and minced

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seed

graeted pumpkin
Korean-style pumpkin pancakes 1
grated pumpkin in bowl with sprinkled sugar and salt
Korean-style pumpkin pancakes 2
grated pumpkin in bowl with sliced onions and chilis
Korean-style pumpkin pancakes 3
grated pumpkin mixed with ingredients
Korean-style pumpkin pancakes 4
pumpkin pancake cooking on griddle
Korean-style pumpkin pancakes 5
pumpkin pancake cooking on griddle
Korean-style pumpkin pancakes 6
Korean-style pumpkin pancakes with fried egg

Image courtesy of AGO

Korean-style pumpkin pancakes 7

Method:

  1. To make dipping sauce, combine all ingredients and set aside until pancakes are complete.
  2. To make pancakes, slice pumpkin thinly and cut into 1/8" thick matchsticks.
  3. Put pumpkin slices in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar and salt, toss together, and let it sit for 15 minutes to extract moisture. Do not drain.
  4. Add the sliced red onions and diced chilis.
  5. Add ½ cup of flour to start, if the mixture still looks wet add the remaining amount and mix well.
  6. Let the mixture sit for five minutes.
  7. If you have a counter-top griddle, set the temperature to medium heat and let warm up. Otherwise use a large non-stick pan or cast-iron skillet on the stovetop. 
  8. Once warm, add 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil to the skillet/pan/griddle. Spoon out 10 even-sized mounds onto the griddle or skillet.
  9. Cook 4-5 minutes on one side, until you get a nice golden crust and then flip over.
  10. Once flipped, gently press pancakes with a spatula to flatten and help with even cooking.
  11. Drizzle a little more oil around the pancakes if they look like they are drying out.

To serve: 

Transfer to a platter and serve hot with dipping sauce. And if you’d like to make it into a meal, add a fried egg.  

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