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Monday, February 14, 2011

Hodduk (Chewy, Sweet, Salty, and Crunchy Korean stuffed pancake) and Conquering Kitchen Fears

Remember when I said I'd been getting into some really exciting things that I never thought I'd make in my own kitchen? Well, I did! I'm so excited!! I finally conquered my fears and got myself some yeast! For some reason, just the sound of the word "yeast" can make some of the most seasoned and adventurous cooks tremble. I guess because our mothers (or fathers) were great cooks and we never saw them use yeast, so if they never taught us, then who are we to go jumping into such scary realms?

Well, the fear of the difficulty was a significant part of why I never ventured into bread-making or other yeasted treats, but I was also afraid that I'd develop a problem... I REALLY love bread. I've got my problem under control and now, luckily.  I don't really eat bread at home unless it's a tasty multigrain like Arnold's Health Nut or their 7 grain or something to make a healthy sandwich for lunch (heck no my sandwich ain't got no deli meat! How dare you!! lol). I've learned to take it easy on the dinner rolls when I eat out (as long as it isn't O' Charley's...those things have crack in them! Plus, the fact that I never order anything but their California Chicken Salad allows me to justify eating more bread since I will eat a healthful meal afterwards). Overall, I'm really not the bread fanatic I once was. Although, admittedly, bread has probably just been replaced by rice, bread and I are cool. We can walk side-by-side and hold hands and stuff without me fantasizing about biting off it's fingers (remember that scene with the lion biting the zebra's butt in Madagascar? :::born free song:::).

All in all, I felt like I had enough will power as well as enough thirst to up the ante on my culinary creativity that I went ahead and bought some yeast. The funny thing is, I bought it to make something that I had never even had nor seen before. In fact, it wasn't even bread, it was a dessert. I love maangchi, a Korean cook on YouTube and at, so when she made hodduk, I was just itching to have some of that deliciousness cooking up in my kitchen!  So on a weekend sleepover in VA (no, I am not too old for that :P), I convinced two of my good friends (who just happen to be Korean) to try and make hodduk, or Korean sweet pancake filled with chopped peanuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar. They first called me crazy for wanting to make that from scratch, but after seeing the recipe, they caved and we were whipping up some hodduk the next afternoon. Unfortunately, our yeast was bad, so the dough didn't rise and instead of nice, fluffy, plush pancakes, we got crispy ones :/. On top of that, since the dough wasn't fluffy and elastic, the filling kept coming through the holes and the sugar was burnt and bitter in spots.  We tried re-doing the dough twice and nothing.

As soon as I came back to Miami and got settled in, what was I making the next weekend? Hodduk!!! Guess worked! They were so yummy and fluffy that I made them three times in about two weeks after that!! Hodduk are very fluffy and soft and slightly chewy and the sugar inside becomes a a lightly sweet syrup. Imagine a mildly-flavored donut with the chewiness of a really good bagel that's filled with a warm, syrup-y but not overly-sweet filling that's balanced with the saltiness and crunch of chopped peanuts and a light spice from cinnamon!  Soooo yummy!

Here is the recipe I used Ignore the amount of salt she uses and just use 1/2 tsp instead, adding it once the yeast liquid has already moistened the flour and been somewhat blended in. Yeast should never come into direct contact with salt because it counteracts the yeast. I think she puts way too much cinnamon, too, so just do it to taste. Here is a video to help you out on technique (, but follow the recipe on flickr because it's best (and traditionally) done with glutinous/sticky rice flour (found at any E or SE Asian market). I used a slim design digital scale that I got for Christmas to measure. I got it from these guys It was a wonderful investment since I make lots of Asian recipes as well as Italian ones and now I can do reliable measurements.

Hodduk takes a little practice to get it perfect, but don't despair!  The key is to let it double in size completely and avoid overstretching the dough. To get the expedite the rising process, cover the bowl of dough in oiled plastic and put it in an oven that you have warmed up slightly but turned off.  Do this by turning your oven to 200 for a minute and turning if off and letting it cool so that it's not hot enough to cook and it's cool enough that you can touch the grills and they are not hot, just warm.  Let the dough rise in the warm over (it must be off).

The dough is incredibly sticky, as most chewy doughs are, so adjust your technique accordingly.  The best idea is to keep your hands generously oiled at all times when handling the dough after the first rising.  Keep a well-floured surface and flour the top of the dough before handing, then place the already floured side face-down in your palm and flour the other side before handling.

Having the right amount of filling is also key.  To get in the most filling, fold the back half together similar to how you see it in the video but instead of adding all the filling then sealing edges. Once you have a pocket, lean the pocket's sealed bottom downward and fill, fill, fill with stuffing, then lightly stretch the dough to fill. Do not overstuff as it will create holes or it will burst and the filling will burn and become bitter, making your hodduk crunchy, not fluffy and chewy. Do not understuff or else it will be bland. You will get better even as you work with your first batch. Try them! You will love them and so will any kids in your family. YUM!

Sorry, but I don't think I ever took pics, but I will do so if I make them again soon. The pic I have is from this website It is not my pic.  The second one is not mine either, it's from a user on

So what are your kitchen fears?  Share them with me below.  I look forward to seeing your responses :).  Whatever your culinary fears, no matter how big or small or how silly, conquer them and enjoy the tasty fruits of your labor!!  Anyone can cook!  It is just a matter of learning and practicing, and most importantly, trying!


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