My post was fixed: intense focus before my workstation, tending to an obscene amount of emails and pending tasks. They all seemed urgent, yet executed not the slightest bit strategically. Periods of release were nonexistent throughout the work week, for I was pulled in multiple directions while not meeting the gaze of a single other entity. By Tuesday evening, I had reached wit's end. But work weeks do not end two days in.
"You are a powerhouse." I was told. Silently, I disagreed. Fatigue catches up to everyone; it is merely a ratio of energy depletion to regeneration.
1) Bacon Pajeon
Exactly one month later, cravings for proper green onion pancakes remained unappeased. Turning to the Seafood Pajeon recipe I had used previously, I set out to salvage the scallions from last week's grocery run. The stalks had wilted considerably, yet nonetheless usable. In my haste, I had not defrosted my shrimp beforehand, instead opting to use the remaining 1/3 package bacon - used for some culinary venture and retained in the freezer from that point onwards.
I first consulted my own post for constructive criticism, then set out without further ado upon noting the 1:1 batter ratio. It only occurred to me afterwards that I hadn't read thoroughly enough to confirm whether the ratio was volumetric (cups) or mass-based (grams).
Maangchi uses: 1/2 cup flour + 1 tbsp potato starch + 1/2 tsp salt + 3/4 cup water or stock , whereas I doubled this portion and resulted with a mixture of: 130 g flour (1 cup!) + 130 g water + an estimated tbsp of cornstarch. My batter was comparatively less runny though, so I continued to add water in small increments until a loose consistency was obtained.
As a shocking 1/3 cup of oil was poured into the pan - a slip of the fingers, mind you - I waited patiently for it to come to temperature. Batter-dipped scallions were then arranged in one uniform layer, then bacon pieces slipped in between, and finally all topped with the remainder of batter. The kitchen swarmed with zealous crackling of hot oil mixing with moisture: a blend of canola oil and rich bacon fat began to splatter on the underside of the lid. After a confident flip, a beaten egg was poured over and tucked into the sides of the pancake. The crisping process was repeated until a lovely goldenness had been obtained on both sides.
In the absence of fresh scallions, the ingredient was omitted from the dipping sauce. Dark soy, white vinegar, sugar, and gochukaru formed the tangy condiment instead.
Feedback received was positive. I was in utter awe of the impeccably crispy surface and tender interior; my only dismay: the lack of crunch and sweetness in the supposed star ingredient.
My all-time favourite K-town snack had long seen its depletion from my freezer. Frankly, I had been procrastinating a homemade rendition for as long as I could possibly withstand. It was strenuous to contemplate the various ways the dough could falter:
What if it's too stiff? Too spongy? Too tacky? Too...disgusting?
The plethora of unfavourable results roamed rampant in my mind, leading to indefinite postponement each time.
Some few days later, I chanced across recipes showcasing glutinous rice flour and tapioca starch in the dough. These inclusions suggested a chewier texture, which is likely to contribute further satisfaction to the brown sugar pancake.
A hefty order of powdered teas had been placed with Vancouver's Paragon Tea Room in the past week. I had came across their selection late last year, added several items to my cart, then emptied it on the basis of economics. "I probably don't need this, at least not right now." I had assured myself. Revisiting time and time again to check their promotions, I eventually succumbed to my retail desires. My package arrived less than one week later, comprising of Genmaicha, Oolong, and Baking Earl Grey powder neatly tucked within a single layer of black tissue paper.
Excitedly, I began to combine white chocolate, vanilla paste, and a few drops of orange extract; this would form the coating chocolate layer, lightly sweetened with specks of vanilla and reflective of earl grey's indicative bergamot base. The tempering process resulted in failure, despite a watchful eye on the temperature fluctuations. Frankly, it wasn't the first time Piccoli Blancor had failed me; I was made aware of the bag's long-passed expiry date, though denied its impact as my Surfin stock was in the same situation.
A project that commenced as an ode to the upcoming Year of the Tiger concluded with no discernible reference to the mighty feline. The conceptual design involved a tiger print deco roll cake, though was eventually dropped upon seeing the unreasonable ingredient list (2/3 of a egg white??). Post-rolling decorations were roughly planned instead.
The citrusy presence was undeniable. While the fine morsels contributed a peachy tinge to the cake, a drop of red food colouring was added to boost intensity. Even with this incorporation though, the final yield lacked in saturation, revealing itself a standard vanilla cake shade. However, flavour-wise, one could not deny its springy, aromatic qualities.
My fault lay with the execution of the meringue. Adopting the Swiss Meringue technique meant a slow ascent to 160 F over a bain-marie for the egg whites and sugar. The issue was not egg white contamination, as common as that error may be, but rather misreading the recipe for 50 g of sugar (as opposed to 150 g!). I hadn't come to that realization until my meringue whipped to be a bit thin; attempts to salvage the formula included:
- A few tablespoons of granulated sugar - A terrible idea resulting in gritty specs within the mixture and no change to consistency
- A few tablespoons of icing sugar - Sweetness overshadowed the charred sophistication of brown butter, though at least helped to thicken the buttercream for spreading.
Ultimately, the filling was deemed too sweet but, thankfully, sturdy enough to fill the roll cake. Forming the signature swirl was undoubtedly facilitated. At either end of the cigar was a bit of wonkiness, but impressive uniformity was witnessed towards middle two-thirds.
Remnants of the chocolate coating were swiftly formed into truffles.
Sablé, otherwise known as French shortbread, were crafted from egg yolks left over from the meringue of the aforementioned creation. Our family's designated Christmas Cookie recipe was quartered to accommodate the two remaining units and formed into Valentine's Day-appropriate shapes for the next Hallmark holiday.