Pancakes aren’t just for brunch. Savory crispy pancakes are a great way to start a meal or enjoy as a snack. Some of my favorites include savory kale, green onion with seafood and these lovely fritters, which feature the mung bean. Also known as moong dal, mung beans grow into the ubiquitous fresh bean sprout (we’re lucky to have fresh, locally grown Alaska sprouts). Often found in Indian cooking, here dried yellow mung beans are soaked then puréed, so no added binder — flour or egg — is necessary.
If modifying this recipe, adapted from my cookbook “Everyday Korean” with co-author Seung Hee Lee, be sure to use equal parts beans to water, as they get pureed together. And make sure to buy yellow dried mung beans — dried green mung beans need to be peeled. Omit the bacon for a vegan/vegetarian option.
It’s said that Koreans crave this dish when it’s raining; the sizzling sound when the batter hits the hot pan mimics the music of raindrops. Serve with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce or your favorite hot sauce if you want a spicy kick. These are delicious warm from the skillet, but leftovers can be crisped up the next morning with a fried or poached egg for a quick protein-packed breakfast or snack.
Crispy mung bean pancakes
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 1/2 cups dried yellow mung beans (moong dal)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup diced bacon (thin strips) or ground pork (omit for vegan option)
1 cup mung bean sprouts (aka fresh bean sprouts)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño or red Fresno chile, thinly sliced
Vegetable oil, such as grapeseed, avocado, or canola, for shallow pan-frying
For the soy-vinegar dipping sauce: whisk together equal parts low-sodium soy sauce and rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar; add sliced green onions or toasted sesame seeds and 1 drizzle of sesame oil, if desired.
1. Place the mung beans (moong dal) in a colander and rinse well. Pour beans into a bowl; add 1 1/2 cups of water. Let soak at least 1 hour and up to overnight — the longer they soak, the softer the texture. Add the beans and the soaking liquid to the bowl of a food processor or blender; pulse into a smooth purée. Add mixture back into the bowl. Add bacon, if using, mung bean sprouts, green onion and jalapeño; stir to combine.
2. Pour a thin layer of oil to coat a large, preferably non-stick skillet, and place over medium-high heat. Test skillet by adding a splash of water or a bit of the batter; the oil and batter should dance and crack and sizzle. When the pan is hot, add the mixture, using a ladle or a 3/4-cup measuring cup to the pan, and press down gently using the back of a spatula to even out the mixture into a pancake. Cook until golden, about 3 minutes. If the pancake is steaming and not sizzling, increase the heat and add another drop of oil. If browning too quickly, reduce heat slightly. Gently turn and cook the other side until golden; try not to flip more than once. Place pancakes on a cooling rack as you go; rewarm, if desired, in the skillet to crisp up the edges before cutting in wedges and serving. Serve warm with soy-vinegar dipping sauce. Leftovers can be reheated in a dry skillet.