KOREAN RECIPE: Mini Meat Patties and Pan-fried Pollock

동그랑땡 (Dongeurangddaeng) & 동태전 (Dongtaejeon)                  by RaOn
                                                                                                       trans./ed. by Onsemiro 


Left to right: Pan-fried Pollock & Mini Meat Patties


Dongeurangddaeng (동그랑땡, “mini meat patties”) and  Dongtaejeon (동태전, “pan-fried Pollock”) are a must at Koreans’ holiday tables such as Seollal or Chusoek or tables for jesa, ancestor memorial services.  These items are called jeon (, ) which is made with vegetables, meat, and fish – ggaennipjeon(깻잎전, “Korean perilla pancakes”) , hobakjeon (호박전, “pan-fried Korean zucchini”), buchujeon (부추전, “Korean chive pancakes), gimchijeon (김치전, “Kimchi pancakes), gochujeon(고추전, “pan-fried chili peppers”), dongtaejoen (“pan-fried Pollock”), sogogisanjeok (소고기 산적, “skewered beef”), nokdujeon (녹두전, “Mung bean pancakes”), pyogobeoseotjeon (표고버섯전, “pan-fried shitake), and  dongeurangddaeng (“mini meat patties”) to name a few.  Today, I will introduce you to the easiest recipes for jeondongeurangddaeng and dongtaejoen – which are made with easy-to-find ingredients.  Of course, our dinner table on Seollal, Lunar New Year's Day (Jan. 23), featured these items.


NDR/NDT: The word jeon (, ) is a shortened form of jeonyuhwa (전유화, 煎油花) or jeonyua (전유아) and jeonyueo (전유어, 煎油魚).  The former two were used in the royal court while the latter by ordinary folks.  Jeonyu (전유, 煎油) translates to “pan-fry” in which jeon (, ) means “boil” and yu (, ) “oil.”  Jeon is also called jeonya (저냐), a contracted form of jeonyuhwa (전유화, 煎油花) or jeonyua (전유아).  Dongeurangddaeng (“mini meat patties”) is a slang term for donjeonya (돈저냐, “money jeon”) that was named after its coin-like shape.  The word dongeurang means “circle” and ddaeng is a shortened form of ddaengjeon, which is a slang term for dongjeon, “coin”; thus dongeurangddaeng translates to “a circular coin ,” and is originally known as gogiwanjajeon (고기완자전, "pan-fried mini meat patties").


1.  MINI MEAT PATTIES (DONGEURANGDDAENG)


INGREDIENTS:
             
● 2.2 lb (1 kg) pork or beef, ground
● 1 ½ packages of hard dubu (aka tofu), smashed and drained 
● 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
● 2 large size green onions, chopped
● 1 onion, chopped
● 6 pyogo (shiitake), chopped*
● 3 chili peppers, chopped
● 2 eggs

Marinade
● 4 cloves of garlic, minced
● 2 tsp ginger juice
● 1 TBSP sesame seeds, toasted
● 1 TBSP sesame seed oil
● 2½ tsp salt
● ½ tsp black pepper

Coating
● about 1⅓ cup flour
● 3 eggs, beaten

Pan-frying
● grape seed or canola oil

* NDR/NDT: You can use either fresh or dried pyogo, but remember the dried ones need reconstituting.  Soak them in cold water at least for an hour before cooking.  Drain soaked pyogo through a strainer.  Don't use warm or hot water, or the flavor and taste will diminish.  If you’re in a hurry, add a spoonful or two of sugar in water.  This will shorten the reconstituting time and preserve the flavor and taste. 


Dried pyogo (shiitake) mushrooms are preferred over fresh ones in Korean cooking as they are more intense in flavor and taste.  To top it off, dried ones are more beneficial as the sun-drying process breaks down proteins into amino acids and transforms ergosterol into vitamin D; both amino acids and vitamin D are known to exhibit antioxidant and anticancer activities, help prevent osteoporosis and promote the bone growth.  The dried pyogo is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, potassium, zinc and manganese, and a very good source of riboflavin (or vitamin B2), niacin, pantothenic acid, copper and selenium. (Click here for details.)

Due to the sun-drying process, this food is also loaded with (i) lecithin that is known to have significant effects on lowering cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL ("good cholesterol") levels in the blood, (ii) retinol (or vitamin A) that is known to help suppress the cancer cell growth, (iii) lenthionine that is partly responsible for the flavor of pyogo and known to help lower cholesterol, inhibit blood clotting, and clear mental confusion by flushing the toxins from your system, and (iv) dietary fiber that helps prevent colon cancer. 

Dried pyogo is commonly used in Korean cooking – jeonjjigae (찌개, “Korean-style stew”), gui (구이, “grill”), or jorim (조림, “braising”).  You may substitute any other kinds of mushrooms for it but why don’t you give it a try for its unique flavor and taste called gamchil mat (감칠 , “a fifth basic taste together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty”) and its health benefits?


Step 1.  Have all the ingredients ready.

All the main ingredients used in this recipe are to be finely chopped (vegetables), or smashed and drained (tofu).  Tofu and eggs are added to enrich and add smoothness of texture to the dish.  

From top left clockwise: chopped onion & carrots, 
soaked and chopped pyogo & smashed and drained dubu,
chopped chili peppers & minced garlic, and ground meat

 Combine them with marinade and mix well in a large bowl.



Step 2.  Shape mixture into mini patties.

Form a mini patty out of the mixture about 1.5 inches in diameter and about 1/3 inch in thickness.
Coat the patties lightly in flour.


Step 3.  Pan-fry the patties.

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and pour enough grape seed or canola oil to generously coat the pan. 
Dip each flour-coated patty into the beaten egg.  Make sure the patty is completely and thoroughly covered, or the egg coating will come off of the patty.


Carefully place completely egg-coated patties into the heated pan and turn the heat down to medium low.  Check the bottom of the patty by lifting it with a spatula. Don't turn if it’s not golden brown, or the patty will come apart.  


 Turn it and cook another 3-4 minutes on the second side until golden brown.  Voilà!



 2.  PAN-FRIED POLLOCK (DONGTAEJEON)


INGREDIENTS:
             
● 1.5 lb (700g) frozen Pollock fillets*, thinly sliced into bite size pieces
● salt and black pepper to taste

Coating
● about 1 cup flour
● 2 eggs, beaten

Pan-frying
● grape seed or canola oil

*You can find the ingredients in your local Korean markets.

Pollock is high in protein and very low in carbohydrates and saturated fat. Protein in Pollock is a complete, high-quality protein, full of amino acids essential to human reproduction, growth, and health.  Amino acids are necessary for cell growth and removal of oxidants hence help our body stay healthy and in fluid (including blood) balance.  The fish is also a very good source of retinol (or vitamin A), riboflavin (or vitamin B2), niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium, so helps increase skin elasticity and maintain skin firmness, rehydrate dry skin, repair damaged skin cells, and reduce wrinkles.  The fish is a very delicious and beneficial gift from the sea.



Step 1.  Have all the ingredients ready.

Thaw frozen Pollock fillets at room temperature; wash thoroughly and drain through a strainer.  Slice the fillets into pieces at a 45 degree angle.


Sprinkle pinches of salt and ground black pepper over the slices to taste.  Set aside for 15 minutes.



Coat the slices lightly in flour.


Step 2.  Pan-fry the Pollock slices.

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and pour enough grape seed or canola oil to generously coat the pan. 
Dip each flour-coated slice into the beaten egg.  Make sure the slice is completely and thoroughly covered, or the egg coating will come off of it.
Carefully place completely egg-coated slices into the heated pan and turn the heat down to medium low.  Check the bottom of the slice by lifting it with a spatula. Don't turn if it’s not golden brown, or the slice will come apart. 
Turn the slices and cook another 3-4 minutes on the other sides until golden brown.


Left to right: Pan-fried Pollock & Mini Meat Patties


3.  DIPPING SAUCE


INGREDIENTS:
             
Seasoned Soy Sauce (양념장, Yangnyeomjang)
● 5 TBSP ganjang* (Korean soy sauce)
● 1 TBSP gochugaru* (Korean hot pepper powder)
● 2 TBSP water
● 1 TBSP minced garlic
● 1 TBSP chopped red chili pepper
● 1 TBSP chopped onion
● 1 TBSP chopped green onion
● 1 tsp sugar
● 1 TBSP sesame seeds, toasted
● 1 TBSP sesame oil

Sour Soy Sauce (초간장, Choganjang)
● 2 TBSP ganjang* (Korean soy sauce)
● 2 TBSP water
● 1 TBSP brown rice vinegar,* or any vinegar
● ½ TBSP sugar
● ground black pepper to taste (optional)

*You can find the ingredients in your local Korean markets.



Now all you have to do is dip mini meat patties and pan-fried Pollack slices in either yangnyeomjang(seasoned soy sauce) or choganjang(sour soy sauce) as you prefer and eat them to your heart's content – my family just loves to eat jeon with choganjang.

Sour Soy Sauce (Choganjang)

Jeon is a dish that is exclusively and uniquely Korean, and is commonly eaten as banchan (반찬, “side dishes”).  In Korean restaurants, it is also served as an appetizer, or many Koreans love it as anju(안주, “drinking snack”).  It’s gaining popularity among tourists from overseas and numerous jeonhouses are drawing crowds, especially foreigners lately.  I’ll introduce you to the amazing world of a variety of delicious, beautiful jeon every now and then.

Jeonhouses in Seoul, Korea

 My sister, RaOn, is a contributing blog writer on this blog.  She currently lives in Seoul, Korea, and writes about what real Korean people eat at home or at Korean-style diners, not at fancy restaurants – it’s just simple yet healthy comfort foods that happen to be very delicious!