• Mike Sula
  • Not my bindaetteok, Kwangjang Market, Seoul

Even if you have only a passing familiarity with Korean food, you’re likely to know pajeon, or haemul pajeon, the wheat flour, scallion, and sometimes seafood pancake that often precedes the main meal in Korean restaurants, either as an appetizer or along with the banchan. But it’s less likely you know its more scarfable cousin bindaetteok, a crispy, savory flapjack made from pulverized mung bean batter. In Seoul’s Kwangjang Market there’s a magical bindaetteok stall (pictured) where a giant rumbling grinder splorts out coarsely ground mung beans, which are promptly griddled on the spot in inch-thick, LP-size disks. You can get smaller ones in front of Sam Bok in Pittsburgh’s Strip District each Saturday, but we can’t have nice things like that in Chicago. I have memory of seeing them wrapped to go at JoongBoo Market and perhaps Hmart on occasion, and they used to make them at New Chicago Kimchee, but no more.

In any case, if they sit around very long they get cold and toughen up, and they’re frankly not terribly enjoyable.* You gotta get them hot. It’s best just to make them yourself, and to that end I’ve adapted—simplified, really—a recipe from A Korean Mother’s Cooking Notes by Chang Sun-young. You don’t have to limit yourself to kimchi and bean sprouts in the batter. You can add beef, pork, seafood, mushrooms, whatever. Serve them with a soy-vinegar-sesame dipping sauce and you’re golden-crispy. Recipe after the jump: