Gazing deeply into the fridge tonight, I realized I had too many odds and ends – a carrot, half an onion, some pieces of bell pepper, and one dozen eggs.  Since my husband travels a lot for work, I am left to my own devices quite often.  And this is what happens.  Without my biggest fan, solo meals become a bit ad-hoc and shopping gets pushed off until the next day… or sometimes the next… and soon (next x 3).

But even on my laziest of days, meals still have to be good and tasty.  I opted for a Korean vegetable pancake today which, in my book, ties with fried rice for the best in cleaning-of-fridge-contents category.  The pancake has a bit of a big omelette feel but better – a crunch of veggies and the slight nutty, grainy texture of a pancake.  Normally, it is egg/flour based with other found ingredients thrown in – scallions, crab, shrimp, mushrooms, bell peppers – even sweet potatoes, as David Lebovitz suggests in his recipe.  My current fridge contents yielded carrot, onion, red bell peppers, Italian green pepper, and imitation crab meat.  Also, since I am kicking the flour habit for the next <sigh> several weeks, I came up with a gluten free version using almond flour (finely ground almonds).

For those with gluten restrictions, almond flour, with some tweaking, is a great substitute for most things requiring white or wheat flour.  Spain, and especially Mallorca, is a big almond producer.  Stores sell the nuts (the delicious Marcona variety) in every form – raw, roasted, salted, fried, whole, chopped, ground.  My usual market carries almond flour in bulk – big huge kilo bags, which saves me from having to plug in my food processor to make it myself.

Korean Pancake, Gluten Free (makes one 9-inch pancake, or 2 meal sized servings)

1/2 cup (1/4 pint) almond flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 carrot julienned
1/4 red bell pepper julienned
1/4 green bell pepper julienned
1-2 imitation crab sticks
1/4 onion
2 pinches sea salt
olive oil for frying

Dipping Sauce: (Combine the following)

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame seed oil

First, julienne any and all vegetable/meat/fish ingredients.  I found that slicing everything as paper-thin as possible, into equivalent length strips, gave a nice texture and helped crisp up the pancake.  For the carrots, I used a vegetable peeler to make the first rough cuts.  Afterwards, I stacked the slivers and used a sharp paring knife to cut thin, skinny strips.  For the “dough,” beat eggs, fold into almond flour, and add a couple of pinches of salt.

Next, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sized skillet over high heat.  Add onions and cook until browned, 1-2 minutes.  Add the rest of the accompanying ingredients and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.  After the vegetable mix is heated through, spread the mix into a single layer covering the bottom of the pan.  Lower heat to medium/high and pour in dough mixture, making sure to evenly cover the vegetables.  Cook for a few minutes until the bottom of the pancake begins to brown.  Overall, things should start to look like they might hold together.

Some skill is required to then flip the pancake to finish the other side.  The almond dough doesn’t hold together as well as flour based dough; I went for it with a spatula and the pancake broke in half during the flip.  But nothing to fear.  The dough can be easily coaxed back into shape – using the spatula, re-round the edges and compact together any loose bits.

After the reverse side is browned, slide the pancake onto a large dish or platter, cut and divide like a pie or pizza, and serve with the soy dipping sauce alongside.  I like mine with an added bit of sriracha hot sauce.

Fridge cleaned.  Dinner done.  Guilt (pretty much) free.

For those interested in the flour based version, delicious recipes can be found here:
Pajeon: Korean Scallion Pancake Recipe by David Lebovitz
Korean-Style Crisp Vegetable Pancake from New York Times

What’s your favorite version?