Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hoddeok (Korean Pancakes with Sweet Filling)

I don't know how I lived for so long in New York away from all my family because now if I don't see my parents and eat some of my mom's Korean cooking, I get some serious cravings. I keep begging my mom to write down her recipes so that I can try them out but she claims it's too difficult for her because she doesn't really measure anything. I very rarely ever see her whoop out a measuring cup or measuring spoons. Actually, I don't know if she even owns any measuring spoons (I'll have to check next time I'm there).

So recently I was craving Korean food and discovered the joy that is YouTube videos of Korean cooking. One of my favorites is Maangchi. Just the sound of her ginormous knife on the cutting board (for some reason all Korean moms I knew would use their one huge knife for all their chopping) reminds me of my mom when cooking. Since I won't be doing my grocery shopping for the week until later I wanted to find a recipe with ingredients that I might have in my pantry/fridge. Then I saw her hoddeok recipe and I knew I had to make some!  Hoddeok is a Korean pancake that is filled with something yummy, like a red bean mixture or some sweet syrupy goodness. My mom never made this at home, but we would often buy it in Koreantown or there's a frozen version that you just pop into the toaster oven. It's a great treat on a cold and dreary day. Since the past few days have been overcast and nonstop raining, I believe the universe was telling me that I had to make these. 

Servings: Makes 8 hoddeoks

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (plus extra for cooking with)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
2 tablespoons finely chopped nuts (I used almonds because that's what I had handy)

  • Pour 1 cup lukewarm water into a medium-large bowl.
  • Add in 2 tsps yeast, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tbsps white sugar, and 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Stir until well mixed.
  • Add in 2 cups flour and stir until well mixed.
  • Cover bowl tightly with saran wrap and let rise for about one hour.
  • After the hour's up, stir the dough to release the air bubbles (I used my small rubber spatula for this).
  • Cover again and let rise for an additional 10-20 minutes.
  • While the dough is on its second rise, in a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 2 tbsps of finely chopped nuts.
  • After dough is done with its second rise, flour a cutting board or other surface very well. This dough is very sticky, so be generous with the flour!
  • Pour out the dough onto your well-floured surface.  Tuck in the edges towards the center and knead it a bit as you get the surface area lightly coated with the flour.
  • Separate the dough into 8 evenly sized pieces.
  • Flour your hands well and with each of the 8 pieces do the following: Flatten it a bit with your hands and in the middle pour 1/8 of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture in the middle.  Curl your hand inwards as you raise the edges of the dough towards the center, closing the dough up as you pinch and pat down the center part. Do this 8 times with each piece of dough and set aside, seam side up. The dough is really sticky so do your best and keep extra flour close by!
  • Heat a large pan a smidgen over medium heat. I found that with my stove I needed to set it right in between medium and medium-high to get the best results. Experiment with your stove to see what works best for you and the color you want to achieve with your hoddeok.
  • Pour a little bit of oil into your pan or use a cooking spray and heat it up.
  • Place your dough ball seam side down into the pan and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until bottom is brown. I found on my stove I needed to do closer to 1 minute.
  • Using a spatula, flip over and then gently press down with your spatula (carefully use your finger to help press down the spatula) across the dough to flatten it out into a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Cook for an additional 1 minute.
  • Flip the dough again and press down with your spatula for a little bit. Lower the heat to low to medium-low and cover.  Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove lid and if you want to make sure the filling inside is melted, flip the hoddeok a couple times and gently press down with your spatula.
  • Remove hoddeok from pan and plate it. Hoddeok is best served piping hot from the cooktop. There's a fine balance between getting it when it's perfectly hot and delicious, and burning your fingers and tongue. I usually end up with burnt fingers and tongue because I'm so impatient.
  • While hoddeok is best served fresh, unless you're cooking for 8 people or are super duper hungry with a crazy fast metabolism, you may want to consider a few options: (1) If you plan on serving/eating the rest in the next day or two place the dough in the fridge until you use it; (2) Freeze dough and thaw before you need it; (3) Make the dough balls with the filling inside and then freeze the balls on a cookie sheet until frozen and then in an airtight container. Thaw before you cook it up; or (4) Make the hoddeoks and freeze them on a cookie sheet until frozen and then in an airtight container. Reheat in a toaster oven or in the oven.  Of course none of these options are as good as fresh and hot, but sometimes we gotta make do with what we can. Since I'm super lazy, my preferred method is to make them completely, freeze, and then toast them to reheat them. 
Now comes the pictures!  

Here are my cute little dough balls.

The first batch I made I didn't flatten them enough or cook them long enough so the filling wasn't as syrupy as I'd like. 
Surprisingly the girls were not in the kitchen as I cooked these up. They usually don't when I cook sweets but as soon as the bacon hits the pan or I cook some other savory food they are promptly by my feet. I think they were also tired from their busy day of going to the groomers, playing with their new ginormous elephant toy/bed from Costco, and going on stubborn walks in the pouring rain all day.
So the next batch I flattened them out a bit better and cooked at the longer times I mentioned above.
A couple were a little too dark on one side, but they were much better and syrupy inside!
The girls were still lounging on the couch and I couldn't do a post without them so I brought the plate over to taunt them and take photos.
Sunny's super tired!
Then I brought them back into my kitchen and started eating!
So good! But now I feel crazy stuffed from having eaten so many as I tried to find the right cooking temps and times for my stovetop!
Oh yeah.
I froze a bunch of them and look forward to reheating them on cold and lazy weekend mornings. I think I'll be making and eating a lot of these this fall and winter! And I might try experimenting with different fillings and flavors. Maybe a pumpkin one???

Adapted from Maangchi (watch her YouTube video - it's very helpful as it shows each step in action).


  1. Oh this sounds so familiar. My mom claims she doesn't measure anything either. I had to watch her make bulgogi to get the recipe. Japchae too. She made kimchee at my house and I took pictures at each step!

  2. I'm thinking of making this as dessert for a party and am thinking of making them ahead and freezing, then reheating to serve. Do you have any advice on whether I should thaw them before reheating, and if I should reheat under the grill or pan fry or warm up in the oven!? Thanks in advance :)
    Debbie x