The cool fall weather is here to stay and school is in full swing. It is also the end of the season for kaenip (perilla) and the leaves are fading into a yellowish light green hue. The other weekend, I plucked the remaining leaves and decided to do a few experiments after speaking with my mom. She mentioned that the older leaves tend to be a less tender and a little tougher. Sometimes she steams a bunch of leaves and makes ssam (wraps) or chops them up and makes jun (pancakes) or jang dduk, a special recipe that my mom culled from her mother that sounded really hearty and quite simply, yummy. The recipe incorporates a spoonful of dwaen jang into the batter. (I know, dwaen jang!) I’ve never actually had the dish before or even heard of such a thing, but the combination of the pungent salty, nutty dwaen jang, and the strong peppery, minty kaenip sounded enticing. If you don’t grow your own kaenip, you can find them in your local Asian market!
Initially, I chopped up the kaenip and incorporated it in a typical pancake shape, but my lightbulb moment came when I decided to coat the whole leaf in batter! Not only does it look prettier, but I love the fact that you know what you are eating. Did I mention how pretty they look?
Jang Dduk (perilla pancakes)
Batter is enough for 15-18 leaves
1 cup flour
1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1-2 Tablespoon dwaen jang (soybean paste)
About 1 cup of water
15-20 kaenip (perilla leaves)
Mix the first five ingredients. Add enough water to reach the consistency of a thick batter. Not too runny, but thick enough to substantially coat the leaf.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
Dip the leaf to coat one side and flip to coat the other side and place in the skillet. Repeat with remaining leaves, but do not overcrowd the skillet. Let cook for about 1-2 minutes or until browned and flip.
Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until browned.