Sunday, November 8, 2015

Kkaetnip Jeon

     Korean Beef Stuffed Perilla Leaves!
     What is Korean Banchan?  This question often is asked by people that have never experienced Korean restaurant cuisine.  Banchan translates to little plates of side dishes.  Banchan is usually served with a meal, but the side dishes can be served like hors d'oeuvres at a party or social event.
     A wide variety of tasty treats can be served as Banchan!  Mung bean sprouts, salads, tiny bowls of soup, noodles, fried marinated tofu and crispy fried sun dried anchovies are some of the most popular Banchan.  Petite dumplings, candied potato, fried egg green bean cake and any kind of kimchi makes the list too.  Even potato salad is served as Banchan at some Korean restaurants.  The list of Korean side dishes is endless!  
     Kkaetnip Jeon is considered to be a Korean side dish or a party platter type of food.  For a side dish with a Korean meal, only 1 or 2 Kkaetnip Jeon are served on a little side dish plate per customer,  For a shared hand passed party platter, the Kkaetnip Jeon are served like the ones in the pictures above.  

     Perilla leaf has a very nice exotic herb flavor.  Just like basil, perilla is in the mint family of plants.  The flavor of perilla varies greatly.  Some perilla varietals have a very complex flavor profile.  The perilla leaves that I used for today's recipe tasted almost like Thai Holy Basil.
     Vietnamese Perilla has green and purple color leaves.  Green Perilla leaves at food markets are usually a little bit bigger than Vietnamese Perilla leaves, so they are easier to stuff.  

     Kkaetnip Jeon:
     This recipe yields about 10 to 12 stuffed large perilla leaves, depending on the size of the leaves.   
     Step 1:  Place 5 ounces of lean ground beef in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of minced firm tofu.  
     Step 2:  Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add tablespoon of a minced green onion.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sherry or rice wine.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground toasted sesame seed.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese red chile powder.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 3:  Mix the ingredients together.
     Chill the beef mixture for 1 hour, so the flavors meld and the mixture becomes firm.
     Step 4:  Trim the stems off of 10 to 12 perilla leaves.  
     *Perilla leaves vary in size.  Larger leaves are easier to work with.  Trim as many leaves as it takes to use up all of the stuffing. 
     Step 5:  Arrange the perilla leaves side by side in rows on a counter top.
     Use a spoon to place small portions of the stuffing on one half of each perilla leaf.
     Spread the stuffing over half of each perilla leaf, so the stuffing is less than 1/4" thick.  (The stuffing layer must be thin, so the Kkaetnip Jeon will cook quickly!)
     Fold the bare half of each leaf over the stuffing and press it together like a little sandwich.
     Step 6:  Whisk 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Set the egg wash aside.
     Step 7:  Heat a sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the oil is about 3/16" deep.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil is about 350ºF.
     Step 8:  Dredge each stuffed perilla leaf in flour.
     Dip each stuffed perilla leaf in egg wash.
     Place a few egg washed perilla leaves in the hot oil at a time.
     Pan fry the stuffed leaves till they are golden brown on both sides and the meat is fully cooked.  (If necessary, flip the stuffed leaves twice so they cook evenly.)
     Step 9:  Set the finished Kkaetnip Jeon on a wire screen roasting rack on a drip pan to drain off any excess grease.
     Step 10:  Place the Kkaetnip Jeon on a serving plate.  (Arrange them so they look nice!)
     Serve with a ramekin of Sriracha or soy sauce.  
     No garnish is necessary!

     Kkaetnip Jeon is an interesting side dish that will certainly please guests!  

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