Everyone survive Halloween alright? Back to the basic horror of daily life in 2020. I’m honestly counting my blessings so hard right now as were heading into a soft lockdown for November in Germany, with schools still open (see? HUGE blessing right there!), but restaurants, cinemas and all things cultural shut down again. I feel it’s totally called for as COVID numbers are skyrocketing at the moment. But pair that with extreme US election angst (have you voted yet?? I did about a month ago!) and it’s making the prospect of November seem very bleak.
So, blessings, right? I’m going to continue keeping myself happy and busy cooking my way though Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage’s awesome book Flavour, which delights me at every turn.
Take these Asparagus & Gochujang Pancakes. Gochujang is a Korean fermented chili paste that packs an amazing flavor punch (easily available in Asian supermarkets or via Amazon), but combine it with asparagus and spring onions, with a spicy soy/honey/chili dipping sauce? Absolute genius! Totally brightened my day.
So if you’e looking for a delicious way to escape reality with me, I most warmly invite to you to make these pancakes.
1 1/8 cup (135g) plain flour
1/2 cup (60g) rice flour (not glutinous rice flour)
1 1/3 cups plus one tsp (325 ml) ice-cold water
1 1/2 tbsp gochujang chilli paste
1 1/2 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1/3 cup (75ml) sunflower oil
14 oz (400g) asparagus, woody ends trimmed and discarded and spears halved lengthways (280g net weight)
4 oz (120g) spring onions (ie, about 6-7), trimmed, cut in half widthways and then again lengthways
For the dipping sauce
3,5 tbsp (50ml) light soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 tsp rice-wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1/2 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
For the dipping sauce, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl, then set aside.
Put both flours in a large bowl with half a teaspoon of salt, and mix to combine. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the egg, water, gochujang, coriander and chilli. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, then slowly pour in the wet ingredients and whisk until just smooth; don’t overmix.
Pour just over a tablespoon of oil into a medium (7 inches, 18cm), nonstick pan on a medium-high flame. Once hot, add a quarter of the asparagus (make sure it all points in the same direction) and a tiny pinch of salt, and cook for a minute and a half to two minutes, turning a few times, or until it begins to soften and colour. Add a quarter of the spring onions, cook for 30 seconds more, then pour over 140g of the batter (ie, about a quarter of it), and swirl the pan so it spreads out to cover the pan’s circumference. Leave to cook for two and a half minutes, then flip over and cook for the same time on the other side, or until crisp and golden.
Transfer to a plate, keep warm and repeat with the rest of the oil, asparagus, spring onions and batter, making four pancakes in all. (You may need to adjust the heat and timings as you go.)
Divide the pancakes between two plates, sprinkle over the extra chopped coriander and serve the sauce alongside or lightly drizzled on top.
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage, featured in Ottolenghi FLAVOUR,
Published by Ebury Press