I started hunting around for a good Lunar New Year recipe from any appropriate Asian culture that celebrates this time of year. I stopped dead in my tracks with this potentially gluten-free Korean recipe that incorporates… mushrooms! And, you can pick the protein or proteins of your choice. Hence, adaptable to vegetarians, as desired.
February 16th, Happy Lunar New Year!! Welcome to the Year of the Dog.
This was a highly-enjoyable banchan (although I’ll admit I made more of a lunch meal from it than would be typical. Leftovers looked a bit wrinkly, but the taste was the same.
This is more intended as an appetizer (or a small side, i.e. a banchan, as it might be termed in Korea) than a main, but I was sold. I found two different recipes, and decided to combine the best of both (at least in my opinion). Shiitake mushrooms (beoseot) are typically used in the recipe, and while I did eventually score shiitakes in my new home, the search wasn’t quick or easy. So… I made this recipe with both shiitake and with baby bella mushrooms.
The proper name for the recipe, if you do use shiitake mushrooms, is Pyogo Beoseot Jeon, with Jeon roughly standing in for “pancake”, though this is relatively obviously not the best translation.
I adapted from two recipes, one of which was a non-spicy rendition, and the other which sounds extremely spicy. The level of desired heat will vary from cook to cook (and their intended audience/victims…); I add some to create a mild-moderate heat, and of course more is possible.
I’ll present the recipe in two parts: a dipping sauce, and the Pyogo Jeon itself.
Prep Time: 5 minutes.
Cook TIme: None.
Rest Time: It can hang out until the Pyogo Jeon is prepared.
Dipping Sauce for Pyogo Jeon
- 2 tablespoons tamari/soy sauce (low sodium, gluten free)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 green onion/scallion, diced finely
Combine all. Set aside until ready.
The oil will separate out from the rest, but when you are dipping, both layers will be part of the enjoyment.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook TIme: 7 minutes per batch of shiitake, 12 for button-style mushrooms
Rest Time: 5 minutes, so as not to burn oneself.
Serves: Plan on 3-4 mushrooms per person if served as a banchan
Leftovers?: Store in fridge, re-heat in 350 F / 175 C oven for 5-6 minutes. Alas, they look rather like leftovers at this point.
Korean Pyogo Jeon (or Pyogo Beoseot Jeon)
- about 20 fresh mushroom caps. If shiitake, remove the stem. Pick shiitakes which have lips, to hold stuffing. If baby bella, crimini or white button, remove the stem and chop it up to use in this dish.
- 8 ounces/220 grams quality ground beef.
- 2 ounces/60 grams firm or extra firm tofu. (NOTE: you can change the protein sources around to your preference; various shellfish may also be an option.)
- 2 tablespoons finely minced green onion/scallion – this worked out for me to be two green onions/scallions, so go with that.
- 3/4 teaspoon hot Korean chili powder. (Go less to experiment, go more if you want… carefully!)
- 1.25 teaspoons of large granules of sea salt. Cut back if you are using a finely granulated salt!
- 1/4 heaping teaspoon ground black pepper.
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons tamari/soy sauce (low sodium, gluten free preferred)
Score the caps of the mushrooms with an X or a cross, and save any bits of the mushroom you’ve removed for this purpose. You will need a very sharp knife on the shiitake mushrooms, the baby bellas were much more forgiving.
Break up the ground beef and the tofu.
Combine all the above ingredients (not any shiitake stems… reserve those for a future mushroom stock, as they are great when dried for such a purpose…) I found that using my hands was most effective.
- 2 whole eggs, beaten
- flour (I used rice flour, it is gluten-free), approximately 1/4 cup, but you won’t need that much.
Set up your stuffing station: roll the mushroom cap in the flour, add the stuffing into the cap just to the level of the cap, dip the stuffed mushroom with the stuffing end into the flour, then dip that stuffing end into the beaten egg.
Do this to all the mushroom caps until done.
In a skillet, coat with a good quality high temp cooking oil (I used avocado oil).
Heat at medium / medium-high.
Add mushrooms, face down, stuffing to the heat.
Pan fry shiitake mushrooms 3-4 minutes on this side; the deeper button-style mushrooms should go 6-7 minutes depending on size.
Flip. Shiitake mushrooms need about 3 more minutes, and the button-styles about five more minutes.
Plate with the tops of the caps facing up.
Serve at least warm. Bring out that dipping sauce (room temp or from the fridge).
And, have a Happy Lunar New Year, and enjoy watching the Olympics!!!! (Seriously, I’d forgotten about the Olympics, which are hosted in South Korea this winter, when I came across this recipe. A factor, perhaps, of not being connected into television in my new home yet?)
If you wish to learn more about how they determine Lunar New Year (it always falls on a new moon), check this out: Chinese New Year.
Resources for my variant on this recipe:
For vegan or vegetarian: Do all tofu (I’d marinate it for a few hours before making this, to provide the tofu with more flavor).
(Extra stuffing? I made small slider-sized patties…)