Korean food is my comfort food. It’s also my family’s comfort food but I rarely cook it at home. When I first started cooking, I learned by watching Rachael Ray and Food Network 24-7. At the time, there were not many resources in English for Korean food. The ingredients were unfamiliar to me and I couldn’t even translate some of the ingredients! Since then, a wealth of Korean cooking resources have emerged and I’ve utilized many of the recipes. But it’s still not what comes easiest to me. Since I rarely cook it, I also find it challenging because I feel like i have to prepare so many components when it come time to actually make it. It’s mentally exhausting. But on some days, I know my family would really love to sit down to some Korean food so I put aside my own issues and cook it.
When I lived in LA and my oldest was just a baby, I met a group of Korean-American moms. We came together, shared meals, ideas, recipes and had lots of playdates. Making friends as an adult can be challenging but I felt really blessed and lucky to find community and support with these women. One woman, in particular, became a very good friend to me. Our sons were close in age and got along well. We lived fairly close to each other and we shared a love of cooking. She was funny, beautiful, supportive and so dedicated to her family, especially her son. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for him. And… she was an amazing cook. Though her time on this earth was cut brutally and unfairly short, I had the honor of knowing her and she made such an impact on me in the short time we had together. She had this way of encouraging me to try new recipes by saying “It’s so easy – you can TOTALLY do it. You want me to show you? Want to come over and I’ll walk you through it??” I have a few recipes (which I know I’ll share here) that are staples in my kitchen because they are so delicious and because I got them from her.
This Korean beef patty recipe is one of them. She had a blog of Korean cooking and was working on a cookbook as well. I miss her presence in my life but think of her often, especially when I make dishes from her kitchen. Bo, I know you are smiling down as I write these words… I think of how you must have typed your posts just as I’m doing now and it makes me smile, thinking we share something years after your passing…
Try these, they’re the closest rendition to my own grandmother’s version that I’ve ever had.
Dong Geun-ran Ddengs – Beef Cakes – (동그랑땡)
Recipe and photos c/o Korean Cuisine
- 1 lb. ground beef
- ½ cup chopped onions
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- ½ cup chopped squash
- ½ cup chopped chives
- 3 eggs
- Korean pancake mix (or just plain old flour)
- 1 TB minced garlic, 1 TB sesame oil, 1 TB gook ganjang, ¾ TB salt, ¼ TB pepper, ¼ TB ginger powder
First get your beef and vegetables ready. Don’t feel limited to using these EXACT vegetables…use what you have! I’ve used mushrooms, green onions, and a lot of other stuff too before and it tastes fine.
I used a mandolin to shred my vegetables, then I just took a knife to roughly cut it up into small bits. It makes the job a lot easier if you have a mandolin on hand.
After the vegetables are chopped and ready season it with 1 TB minced garlic, 1 TB sesame oil, 1 TB gook ganjang, ¾ TB salt, ¼ TB pepper, ¼ TB ginger powder and mix it up well using your hands.
Add about 1 pound of beef and mix it well again using your hands.
Get some flour or Korean pancake mix ready in a large bowl and scoop up 1 TB of the meat mixture at a time and using your hands try to form them into small, flat little patties.
Coat them thoroughly in the pancake mix and set aside. I actually had to do this in two separate batches because I ended up with a lot of beef cakes. And YES, this gets very messy…which is why I only make these a few times a year.
In another bowl, crack 3 whole eggs and mix it up really well. Dip each piece of coated beef cake into the egg mixture and then fry it on a frying pan. I found that using a spoon makes transferring the beef cakes a lot easier without breaking them apart.
Make sure you use enough oil to cover the whole pan and then some. Let the beef cake fry on each side for at least 2 minutes. Each time you do another batch, clean off the frying pan with a wet paper towel and start off with fresh oil.