I am totally in love with Chef Judy Joo’s hotteok recipe. It produces the most addictive cinnamon-sugar and nut-filled Hotteok!
For me, the charm of street food does not lie solely on the experience of eating it. There’s also the part where you stand in line or in front of the stall, watching the food being made right before your eyes, almost as if you’re watching some sort of live cooking show. And if you like cookery as much as I do, I bet you can relate when I say it’s a fascinating sight.
When I first explored the world of South Korean street food, one of the first “street cooking shows” that caught my attention was the making of the hotteok 호떡, or sweet Korean pancake. In particular, I love the part where they use this flat stainless round tool with a wooden handle to squish the dough balls into these thin pancakes. It looked SO SATISFYING lol. I remember thinking, I WANT THAT TOOL. And also, I want to make hotteok at home.
I never quite got around to buying the tool (yet), but I have managed to make hotteok, as you can see. And it’s a damn good hotteok recipe too, courtesy of Chef Judy Joo. I used to watch Judy Joo’s cooking shows on TV, but it’s been a while since I have. Nevertheless I felt confident her recipe would not disappoint, and I was right! This recipe is simply AMAZING. It takes some time because of all the proofing the dough needs to undergo. It also takes some effort because the dough is SUPER sticky. But you know what? The result is just 대박! There is no other way of putting it!
The filling of these hotteok is like a cinnamon flavored salted caramel. When it’s very hot, the filling oozes out of a shell that has just the right amount of bite, crunch, and chewiness. It’s so good! Just be careful of that hot filling when the hotteok is fresh off the pan. It can burn your tongue!
- WHAT FLOUR DO YOU USE FOR THIS? This recipe uses a combination of bread flour and glutinous rice flour. While you can safely sub all-purpose flour for the bread flour, please DO NOT interchange normal rice flour for glutinous rice flour as it will not work! Glutinous rice flour and sweet rice flour are the same, only the labelling is different depending on the origin of the flour. If you buy Japanese and Korean brands like I do, they will typically be labelled as Sweet Rice Flour. Usually it’s referred to as mochiko [もち粉], while in Korean, it’s called chapssal garu [찹쌀가루]. Thai packaging will usually just say Glutinous Rice Flour. You will need the gluten contained in the glutinous rice flour to produce that unique chewy texture of the pancake.
- THE DOUGH IS SO STICKY! HOW CAN I MANAGE IT? The dough for this recipe is intentionally sticky because the ratio of ingredients is meant to produce a chewy and crunchy pancake that is not hard. You can either dust your work surface or hands generously with flour while handling the dough, but you also do not overdo it with the extra flour. If you feel that you’ve already used a lot of flour and the dough is still too sticky to handle, use oil instead. Spread a little oil onto your hands or work surface and the dough will no longer stick, but do not use too much oil as the dough will slip.
- WHAT OTHER FILLING INGREDIENTS CAN I USE? This recipe uses a basic muscovado or brown sugar-based filling with nuts. The sugar will melt into caramel once cooked, and the muscovado will provide a much deeper caramel flavor compared to brown sugar, but either will be good in this hotteok. You can use whatever nuts you like or have as well. I like them chopped roughly, but you can chop them finely if you want. The cinnamon and the salt gives the filling extra flavor and a salted caramel tone.
- HOW CAN I EVENLY DISTRIBUTE FILLING INSIDE THE HOTTEOK? The important thing to remember is that during the shaping stage, flatten your dough as evenly as you can. Place the filling in the center, and then take the edges and, moving around the circle of dough, gather them on top, keeping the filling in the center as you create a ball of dough. (This is easier seen on the video tutorial above.) Pinch the gathered mass of dough closed to seal the filling in the center of the dough ball.
- WHAT CAN I USE TO FLATTEN THE HOTTEOK? I used a heavy plain spatula with no holes in the center to flatten the hotteok into an even pancake shape. You can use any sort of flat object available to you, or better yet, but a hotteok presser because that will make this part even more fun lol. There’s something satisfying about squishing that dough ball flat.
- HOW DO I KNOW THE HOTTEOK IS DONE? I like to cook my hotteok until it’s toasted and crunchy on the outside. As you can see, it’s just a tad darker than golden brown and I like my hotteok this way. Some people might like it a little browner, but feel free to take it out of the pan as soon as you see that it looks golden on both sides. The hotteok will be cooked through once it’s golden since it doesn’t really take that long to cook, but you are the only one who can determine how toasted or crunchy you like your hotteok.
- WHAT IF I CAN’T FINISH ALL THE HOTTEOK? To reheat leftovers, use a nonstick pan with just a touch or no oil at all to toast the hotteok into crunchiness again. The filling will also melt back into caramel.
Judy Joo's Korean Hotteok
For the dough
- 1½ cups 360 mL whole milk
- 2 Tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons 7 grams instant dry yeast
- 1½ cups 225 grams bread flour, plus additional for dusting
- 1 cup 150 grams sweet glutinous rice flour*
- 4½ teaspoons 20 grams cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon 3 grams kosher salt or sea salt
- Vegetable or any neutral flavored oil, for frying
For the filling
- ½ cup 125 grams muscovado or dark brown sugar, firmly packed**
- ½ cup 75 grams nuts of choice, roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon 8 grams ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon 4.5 grams kosher salt or sea salt
Make the dough
- In a small saucepan, warm the milk up just until hot to the touch, about 110° to 115°F. Whisk in the sugar and yeast until completely dissolved, then let stand in a warm place until bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes. (Yes, it will work with instant yeast.)
- In a large bowl, combine bread flour, glutinous rice flour, and cornstarch, with the salt. Slowly pour in the bubbly milk and yeast mixture while gently mixing with a wooden spoon. Keep mixing until a uniform, but very goopy and sticky dough forms. It will take several minutes.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours depending on the weather in your location. With oiled hands or knuckles, knock or punch down the dough. Cover and leave it to proof a second time until doubled in size, another 1 to 1½ hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling
- In a small bowl, whisk together the muscovado/brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon, and salt.
Assemble the hotteok
- After the dough has risen the second time, generously dust a clean surface with flour. Dust your hands and knock down the dough again, turning it out onto your dusted work surface. Dust the top of the dough with some more flour and knead a couple of times until dough is smooth. The dough will be quite sticky but try not to overload it with flour.
- Shape the dough into a fat log, then divide the dough into 10 equal portions, about 75 grams each. Shape into balls and cover with plastic wrap.
- Dust hands and work surface with flour as necessary to prevent sticking. (You can also lightly oil if you feel you've already used too much flour.) Working with one dough ball at a time, use floured/oiled hand to flatten each ball into a round disk about 4 inches in diameter. Make sure your dough disks are even in thickness so the filling will also be evenly distributed.
- Scoop 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar mixture into the center of the dough disk, then pull the sides up to seal the filling. Pinch the seam at the top to make sure the filling will not escape. Gently reshape into a ball.
- Place seam-side down on a floured baking tray or large plate. Cover with plastic wrap while you repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Cook the hotteok
- Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat with 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil. Once oil is hot, place prepared hotteok ball seam-side down in the frying pan. Immediately use a spatula to gently flatten into a pancake shape. Fry until pancakes are golden brown, crispy, and slightly springy to the touch, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. You can cook these 3 at a time if your pan will permit. Adjust the heat as necessary. If your hotteok is browning too fast, lower heat to medium or medium-low.
- Transfer the cooked hotteok to a wire rack or onto a kitchen towel to get rid of excess oil. Allow the hotteok to cool slightly before eating, because the sugar filling can burn the tongue. These are best eaten hot, when the filling is still oozing and the pancakes themselves are super crunchy.
- To reheat, use a nonstick pan with just a touch or no oil at all to toast the hotteok into crunchiness again. The filling will also melt back into caramel.
**Muscovado gives the best melty caramel center and best flavor to the hotteok, but brown sugar is good too! Adapted from Chef Judy Joo
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