Recipe: Napa Cabbage Jeon (배추전)

While jeons of the pa, kimchi, etc variety are the well known of the bunch, there's a lesser known but still delicious jeon that I'm introducing today.

Bae choo jeon is jeon made with Napa cabbage leaves. Believed to have originated from the Gyeongsang-do region, this simple dish of whole cabbage leaves dunked in batter and fried gives the leaves a nice softer taste that goes well with the simple soy sauce dressing. I was surprised to learn that even many of my native Korean friends haven't heard of this but they've all become fans after trying it out.

The minimal effort to make this yields some awesome results!

Napa Cabbage Jeon (배추전)
Makes 2-3 servings
You'll need:
- 10-12 whole Napa Cabbage leaves, washed and drained
- 1 cup of Korean Fry Powder (퇴김가루) plus 2-3 tbsp extra
- 1/4 cup of Water
- 1 Egg (optional)
- A handful of Ice Cubes (optional but makes for a crisper batter)

For the sauce:
- 4 tbsp of Soy Sauce
- 1 tbsp of Vinegar
- 1 tsp of Sugar
- 1 Scallion, chopped
- 1/2 tbsp of Sesame Oil
- Sesame Seeds
- 1 tbsp Red Chili Flakes (Optional) 

1. Wash and thoroughly drain the water off of your cabbage leaves. Then lay them out and flatten them with a flat dish or rolling pin. This will help the leaves to cook more evenly.

Mix together the ingredients for the dipping sauce. Taste and adjust as needed before setting aside.

2. Layer 2-3 leaves at a time on a plate and sprinkle some of the frying powder on top and keep alternating. The leaves don't need to be caked in the powder, just a light sprinkle on each leaf will do.

3. Mix the water and the fry powder and add the ice cubes. If you want to add the egg you can too. This creates a more golden and, obviously, "egg-y" tasting batter.

In any case, the batter should be about pancake batter consistency.

4. Heat a pan with some oil on medium heat. When the pan gets hot, take turns dunking each leaf in the batter, making sure everything from end to end is coated, and then carefully lay out on the hot pan.

While its cooking, make sure to press down with a spoon or spatula on any of the parts where the leaves are curved outwards and not making contact with the pan. This will not only help ensure a more even cooking but will make the end results more aesthetically pleasing too.

5. The jeon should take only about 3-4 minutes to cook on its first side. Carefully flip it over to cook the other side, making sure to press down on any parts that are bumped up again. After about 3 minutes on the second side, lay out on a plate lined with some paper towels to catch the excess oil.

Repeat the cooking process for each leaf until you're done.

Serve while warm with the dipping sauce. This can be eaten with side dishes and rice as a meal or even as an anjoo with some drinks.

You can enjoy the jeon in bites or roll it up and eat the whole thing after dipping. I prefer the latter heh :P