Saturday, 18 October 2014

In which I am convinced it's a good idea after all

Food traditions are an important cultural legacy. As someone who is probably a bit too interested in food, I find the food traditions of all cultures fascinating. As myself, I consider the food traditions of my own culture to be something that I should try to uphold and cherish. This is why I am trying to make my own tofu and why I am so glad that my mum makes her own kimchi and can teach me how to make it. This is why I disregarded all travel safety advice and tried ceviche in Peru and tried to eat exclusively on the the street in Vietnam.

And of course, my stint as a bún thịt nướng vendor
For these reasons, I have always been biased against inauthentic 'food hacks' where people try to make semi-homemade food that is meant to be reminiscent of that of another culture. Examples of this include 'recipes' for turning instant noodles into faux-pho, the terrible renditions of 'Western' food like pizza and hamburgers that you encounter in many Asian countries and the 'Chinese' food that they sell in takeaway stores in New Zealand. Or when a recipe for pad thai includes tomato ketchup. Nobody wins.

One practice that I have always found particularly offensive is when recipes claiming to be 'Asian-inspired' use peanut butter. I always felt uneasy with the idea of incorporating a breakfast spread into the proud culinary tradition of another culture. However, with the rise of additive-free, natural peanut butter options I have come to see it as a much more viable option as a cooking ingredient. They're just peanuts right?

So I finally decided to try out an Asian-inspired recipe with peanut butter. It was delicious. I swapped out sweet chili paste for a spoonful of my ingredient of the moment, gochujang. Combined with peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame and a bit of lemon juice, the resulting sauce was complex, flavourful and all-round amazing. It was actually reminiscent of ssamjang which is a derivative of doenjang and gochujang that often has nuts and seeds added to it. 


When combined with buckwheat noodles (매밀면, memil myun) and a variety of crunchy vegetables, you get the most satisfying of noodle salads. The gochujang has a deep, slow-burning spice that pairs well with the nuttiness of sesame and peanut. This salad is a hearty vegan main rather than a side dish, and will be a go-to lunch or dinner option throughout the coming summer months.

Spicy sesame-peanut noodle salad
adapted from Nigella Lawson
serves 2 as a main meal 

200g of buckwheat noodles

For the dressing
1Tb of sesame oil
1/2Tb soy sauce
1Tb of gochujang
2Tb of smooth peanut butter 
2Tb of lemon juice
1/2tsp sugar
1Tb of sesame seeds, I used black ones

2c of crunchy vegetables, cut into thin strips if necessary (carrots, cucumbers, beansprouts, snow peas, radishes at the like)
2Tb of spring onions, thinly sliced
extra sesame seeds for garnish

1. Cook the noodles as directed on the packet. Rinse with cold water and leave to drain in a colander.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the dressing ingredients into a paste. Taste and adjust as required.
3. Add noodles and crunchy vegetables to the bowl and stir to coat everything with the dressing.
4. Transfer to a serving dish and scatter spring onions and extra sesame seeds over the top.

The classics are great


I think that quite soon, I will have to change the name of this blog to the cake and noodle blog. To be fair, this is a reasonably accurate description of the diet of my dreams if you add a few vegetables in there. Today I would like to share a recipe for what I consider to be one of the 'classic cakes' - chocolate fudge cake. The kind made with cocoa, oil and boiling water, rather than the flourless type of chocolate cake made with mostly chocolate and eggs. 

Despite being a classic and well-liked cake, it is one that often disappoints the eater. The problem is that these cakes are made with oil for a lighter texture. However, every oil-based chocolate cake I have ever eaten (homemade and storebought) tastes like rancid oil, making it impossible to enjoy. I had a theory that replacing the vegetable oil with coconut oil would fix the problem, and I finally got around to making it yesterday.

The results were rather glorious. The batter was ridiculously simple to put together, rose to great heights in the oven and resulted in a moist, light-textured cake with a complex and deep chocolate flavour. Paired with a chocolate buttercream that tastes like rich chocolate mousse, it became a dangerously delicious cake. Luckily there were guests to serve and distribute the cake to so I could share the calories around.

Here is an example which should illustrate how tasty this cake is: while writing this post, I went into the kitchen to get some coffee and cake. While waiting for the water to boil I cut myself a slice of cake. I tasted it, tasted it again, and ended up eating the whole slice before water had finished boiling. I returned with just the cup of coffee. Hopefully, you will be able to enjoy this cake in a slightly more civilised manner. Good luck.

I decorated the frosted cake with cocoa nibs, freeze-dried cherries and pansies from the garden

Chocolate cake with chocolate fudge frosting
adapted from Add a Pinch (cake and frosting)
makes 1 23cm ring cake or 10 cupcakes

Cake
1c plain flour
1/4c plus 2Tb of cocoa powder
1c sugar
1tsp baking powder
3/4tsp baking soda
1/2tsp espresso powder (optional)
1/4-1/2tsp salt (I found 1/2tsp a bit too salty)
1 egg
1/2c milk
1/2c boiling water
1/4c coconut oil (I added this to the measuring cup along with the boiling water to melt it)

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius and prepare your ring cake tin or muffin tin.
2. Place flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and soda, espresso powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl and combine with a whisk.
3. Add the egg, milk, water and coconut oil and stir until combined. The batter is quite runny.
4. Pour into ring cake tin or fill muffin tin to 1/2 full. 
5. Bake for around 22min for the ring cake or 20min for the cupcakes. Check with a toothpick for doneness.
6. Let the cake cool in the tin for about 10min before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Frosting (makes enough to frost either one cake or 10 cupcakes)

85g butter, softened
1/3c cocoa powder
1 1/4c icing sugar
2Tb milk
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/8tsp espresso powder

1. Using an electric whisk, beat the butter and cocoa powder together until fluffy.
2. Add half the icing sugar, then 1Tb of milk and repeat. Beat until combined. Add a tablespoon or so more milk or icing sugar if needed to reach the right consistency.
3. Add the vanilla and espresso powder and beat for another 10 seconds. 
4. Frost the cake when it is completely cool or your buttercrem will melt.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

If we pretend it is summer it may come faster


This my second post about the adventures I am having with a bag of dried soy beans. Over the last few months, I have had this strange sensation that I am entering a new stage of development. I am still in my twenties for a few years yet, but some how I feel like I have already mentally transitioned into my thirties. The way I react to external stimuli has changed, as have my priorities and perspectives. I have developed an increasing interest in the motherland (Korea) and have even made my peace with kids, as you will see from my previous posts. 

One major practical change has been in my diet. There has been a decisive shift towards more Korean cooking, not only through conscious effort but because it is what I am craving at the moment. Today's recipe 콩국수 (kong guksu, soy bean noodles) is a dish that I had been dreaming of for months now. It's a traditional summer dish - the broth is reminiscent of soy milk without the solids removed, creamy yet light and served ice cold. The noodles are thin wheat noodles called 소면 (somyun) that are cooked and then rinsed under cold water to cool them down and wash away any residual starch. There are regional variations in how the broth is seasoned (sugar versus salt) as well as the accompanying garnishes (tomato, cucumber, half a boiled egg, carrot etc) but has far as I know, a sprinkle of sesame seeds is compulsory.


I know that the dish sounds kind of weird and I never cared for it when I was younger. Just like your first sip of beer makes you cringe but then you find yourself thinking of a cold one on a sunny day, I suddenly wished it was summer just so I could wholly enjoy a bowl of these weird noodles. The days have gotten longer (thanks in part to the start of daylight saving) and it is almost warm enough to walk around in a t-shirt and shorts, I decided to bring summer into the kitchen slightly earlier and attempted to make these noodles based on a couple of recipes for reference, along with advice from my mother and my memories of how it was meant to taste and look.

On my first attempt, I went by a recipe rather than my instincts and the resulting noodles were deemed, "Okay for something made by a young person," by my mother. This was clearly not a satisfactory result. I waited for the next really sunny day and tried again, streamlining and modifying the method to create the kong guksu that I had been dreaming of. I made the broth much more concentrated and separated out the larger pieces of bean for a much creamier texture, enhanced furthermore by the addition of a handful of cashews.

The second attempt was very well received and I got to experience the wonderful satisfaction that comes from eating exactly what you have been craving. I can only imagine how much better these noodles will taste on a sweltering summer's day. Creamy broth and thin, slurp-able noodles, paired with the occasional crunch of cucumbers and the tang of tomatoes makes for a refreshing bowl of summer soul food.


As the seasons change as a physical manifestation of time passing, I hope that everyone is taking the time to make sure that the Sewol victims and their families are not forgotten. It has now been six months to the day. 294 dead and 10 missing. No real answers to the question, "Why did and how could this happen?" I have had to read every story in the link above while translating them. Although I can't fathom the extent of the families' sadness, I catch glimpses of it and that is enough to make me realise that we all have an obligation to comfort them and stand with them as they seek answers.

This is Ye-Eun, yesterday would have been her 17th birthday. Photo from: http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/View/at_pg.aspx?CNTN_CD=A0002043762

 Equally, I hope we all remember that we still need to hold the New Zealand government to account for the revelations of Dirty Politics and barely-legal mass surveillance, as well as prevent New Zealand's sovereignty being sold off in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I don't talk about these things because I am a very politically-minded person but because I have come across these issues while hoping for and trying to work towards a society that is a bit better for everyone. Because I believe that these are issues of right and wrong, of justice and injustice. 

I have been trying more and more to live like I am already part of the better society that I hope for, a fairer and kinder society. Just like eating a bowl of summery noodles seems to bring summer a bit closer, if we all lived for the society that we aspire to, perhaps it may arrive a little faster.

콩국수 (Kong guksu, soy bean noodles)
serves 3

1c dried soybeans
1/2c raw cashews
salt and water

150g somyun

1c worth of cucumber
1c cherry/grape tomatoes
white or black sesame seeds

1. Soak the beans in 4c water for at least 10 hours.
2. Rinse the beans and rub them between your hands to remove all the filmy skins.
3. Boil the skinned beans and cashews in 4c water for 15 minutes.
4. Rinse again, drain and place in blender. Add 1/2c of water and 1/4tsp salt, and blend the beans and cashews into a smooth paste.
5. Add 1.5 more cups of water, and blend again. Taste and add more salt if required.
6. Pour the broth through a sieve, using the back of a spoon to gently push any small bits through. You will be left with about 1/2c of larger bits.
7. Return the solids to the blender, blend for 30 seconds, add 1c of water and blend again.
8. Combine the two lots of broth and store in the fridge.
9. De-seed the cucumber and slice into thin strips. Halve or quarter the tomatoes.
10.  Boil 2L of water, boil the somyun for around 8 minutes. Be careful that it doesn't boil over. It is cooked when it is just past al dente (the noodles should be cooked all the way through).
11. Wash the noodles with cold water until the noodles have cooled down, drain and divide between 3 bowls.
12. Pour the broth over the noodles, add 3-4 ice cubes to each bowl and top with cucumbers, tomatoes and sesame seeds.

Serve with other banchan, it is nice to have some spicy ones for contrast.

This is a cucumber pickle called 오이자 (Oi-ji) that I thought went particularly well with kon guksu.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

For the children


Playdough potatoes adorned with flowers, by H, age 4

For a long time I thought I didn't like kids. I never felt comfortable with squealing with delight over babies or having to pick up every stray toddler that crossed my path. I've always thought baby talk was mutually embarrassing. I don't love the smell of babies. For some inexplicable reason, this sort of behaviour in young people is considered the benchmark for being 'good with children.' And so, in a self-perpetuating cycle, I allowed this sort of societal misconception to deceive me into thinking that I was incapable of having a meaningful relationship with kids and I never really tried to hang out with the ones around me. 

However, recent circumstances have meant that I have accumulated two kind-of-nieces. Through experience I have discovered that I am not bad with kids, I just needed to find my own approach to interacting with them. Thinking back to when I was younger, I actually disliked being fawned upon and talked down to by adult, so really, the current system is creating losses on both sides. Saying that I don't like kids is as antagonistic as saying I don't like people and probably as misguided, as is the expectation that kids should be treated as some sort of adorable and unthinking bauble.

One activity that both of my kind-of-nieces (who are 4 and 5 years old) really enjoy is playing with playdough. Playdough traverses an enticing middle line between messy and non-messy play, it has unlimited creative potential and it can be made at home in about five minutes. My mother used to make playdough for me when I was a kid, so I have always known that it is very easy to make at home. However, for everyone out there who is still buying it by the tub, I thought I would share a recipe for it. All the ingredients are non-toxic and non-irritant and if kept in an airtight container (in the fridge in warm temperatures) homemade playdough keeps for at least a month (the Internet says 6 months, but I think it would probably get pretty contaminated by that point.

Pink raspberry, blue coconut and yellow lemon playdough

 Play dough can be made in any colour (use gel or powder food colouring for vivid colour), it can be scented with extracts and spices, you can add glitter or dried rice and beans for texture. Younger kids may try take a bite, but usually the saltiness is enough to dissuade them from trying again.

Playdough meal by H again

Homemade playdough
from The Imagination Tree
makes about an adult fist-sized amount

1c plain flour
1/4c salt
1Tb cream of tartar
1Tb of vegetable oil (I recently used coconut oil melted in the boiling water and it gave a particularly smooth texture to the dough - plus it is like a built in moisturiser)
3/4 boiling water
flavour extracts, food colouring, edible glitter and other add-ins

1. Combine flour, salt and cream of tartar in a small bowl.
2. In a measuring cup, combine the remaining ingredients - stir to melt the coconut oil if using.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stir until a dough is formed, adding more water or flour as necessary. 
4. Knead the dough until it is smooth and pliable.
5. Keep in an airtight container or bag after playing. The fridge is best in warmer climes.

To dry playdough, place on a baking tray, cover loosely with foil and bake at 120 degrees Celsius until the pieces are completely dry. For bulkier items, using a knitting needle or pencilt to create a hollow space in the base/centre of the piece will enable faster drying.

For play dough that you can air-dry, try this recipe.
 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Transitions in the transition season

I think the fresh and new part of spring has already been, and now everything is eagerly straining towards summer. The season and my life too are peaceful but with a a restless undercurrent of change, it reminds me of a song by one of my favourite Korean musicians, Kim Kwang-seok - 바람이 불어오는곳 (Where the wind blows from). To clumsily translate a couple of lines of his lovely lyrics: 

바람이 불어 오는 곳 그곳으로 가네
Where the wind blows from, that is where I go
그대의 머리결같은 나무 아래로

 Beneath the branches of a tree that moves like your hair
덜컹이는 기차에 기대어 너에게 편지를 쓴다

I lean on the the rocking train and write a letter to you
꿈에 보았던 길 그 길에 서 있네

The road I saw in a dream, that is where I stand

설레임과 두려움으로 불안한 행복이지만 

Although anticipation and fear, create a restless happiness
우리가 느끼며 바라볼 하늘과 사람들

This is the sky and the people that we know and look upon
힘겨운 날들도 있지만 새로운 꿈들을 위해

Although there are weary days, for our new dreams
바람이 불어 오는 곳 그곳으로 가네

Where the wind blows from, that is where I go

 Sadly, he is no longer with us but lyrics like this remain to give us all a glance into his beautiful soul. There is some really lovely Korean music out there.
 
Perhaps my last spring flower photo for the year
There are other flowers though
Today's recipe is appropriately lovely and subtle. I've been making these nibby buckwheat butter cookies for a long time, whenever I could get cocoa nibs basically. The combination of nutty buckwheat flour and rich, earthy cocoa nibs in shortbread cookie form is a genius combination. These cookies transcend the sum of its parts and are as close to cookie perfection as I can imagine.



Instead of forming a log and using the slice-and-bake technique, I have taken to forming the dough into balls and flattening them before briefly chilling and baking them. It's faster and I prefer the resultant shape to the misshapen circle/square I usually end up with when I start slicing cookies off a log of dough.



Nibby buckwheat butter cookies
makes 16 cookies (I halved the recipe and used a slightly different technique to form the cookies)
An Alice Medrich recipe that I first saw on 101 Cookbooks

80g plain flour
43g buckwheat flour
113g butter, at room temperature
1/3c sugar
1/8tsp salt
 3Tb cacao nibs
3/4tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius and line to baking trays with baking paper.
2. Cream the butter, sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl until light in colour but not fluffy.
3. Add the vanilla and nibs and stir. Add the flours and stir until just combined.
4. Form the dough into walnut sized balls, place on the baking tray and flatten to 0.5cm thickness. Cookies should be about 3cm apart. 
5. Chill the cookies in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (as the oven preheats!).
6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, the should be a golden colour around the edges like in the first photo.
7. Leave on the baking tray for at least 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Some self-reflection and cake

If you stay until the end, there will be cake

It's easy to believe that you are a good person when everything is going well. The body and limbic system, our own lowest common denominators easily fall victim to mental short-cuts that justify our actions and thoughts as being righteous or infallible. We want to be on the winning team and also believe it was the right team to be on, the adrenalin hit of competing and the rush of being right are instantaneous rewards that further this cycle of behaviour. Conversely, this means that being proved wrong or 'losing' in an ideological sense provokes anger and aggression when topics like politics and philosophy become sports. This way of thinking is further reinforced by the use of identifying colours (be they red, blue or green), the use of sports metaphors in political rhetoric and the blatant eliciting of modern tribalism (see: #teamkey).

Even the most noble of human endeavours can be demeaned by the reduction of a cause into a competition or a battle, and it is only with great insight that we can see this happening within ourselves. Even more troubling is when an individual knows all of this and still engages in these behaviours. I think that is something I saw in myself recently. Even knowing that there is a fine line between political participation and divisive behaviour, I probably indulged my inner sports hooligan a little bit. 

This is how I indulged my inner sports hooligan.

It was nothing externally dramatic - the changing of a social media avatar, honking in support of the candidate I supported, some politically coloured cupcakes. Nothing much at all when compared to how volatile things can get during election time. However, those actions were clearly a result of buying into the divisive tribal rhetoric and an acceptance of 'us versus them' as a reality rather than a false argument created to benefit politicians rather than the country as a whole. I allowed myself to be convinced that the country was divided into opposing teams and we simply cannot exist that way.

That is not to say that there has been any change to my political stance. But a couple of recent experiences have made me change my mind about how I think about those with different political opinions to me. Firstly, I have been reading a book about modern Korean history, which is the sad tale of a divided country that remains divided by exactly this sort of rhetoric. I am only half-way through the book, but am already frustrated by the fact that the governments representing these two halves of the same country treat each other like enemies. I don't think your average North or South Korean thinks of their brother or sister in the opposite end of the country as an enemy, so I don't know why this forms the basis of their governments' diplomatic relations.

Secondly, I listened to a speech by a noted Korean speaker and entertainer during a memorial event for the ten Sewol victims who are still at sea. You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned the Sewol Disaster much recently, this is because there hasn't been much worthy of retelling - progress seems like a distant goal at the moment and more and more there seems to be a deadening of hearts with regards to the disaster and its aftermath. I am still doing my translations and the victims and families are in my prayers, and I hope they are in yours too. 

The crux of this speech was love and togetherness. The long battle to ensure an independent investigation, the suspicion that the government is trying to escape blame and the increasing desperation of the families have driven a wedge between those who support the families and those who support the ruling party. I wrote about the politicisation of the Sewol Disaster on the other blog awhile ago and it has only gotten worse since then. I think this is why this speech was so important and sounded so profound. Here is an excerpt that I translated:

"There are depraved people who would compare the President to a chicken. That too I find unacceptable. A chicken cries every morning. But it doesn't cry because things are different from how they were yesterday. It just cries because it is morning. This is because it can't remember why it cried yesterday. This is why we can't have people comparing the President with the likes of a chicken. Because even now the President is striving to keep her promises and more than anyone else, wants to take the hand of the victims' families and listen to what it is the families want, not only to carry out the investigations by enlisting the Police and prosecutors and even making a special law if needed, but to ensure that priority is given to expressing the will of the families, this is what the President has said."

-Kim Jedong (김제동)

It probably takes quite a bit of contextual knowledge to fully appreciate the speech, but the vocal rejection of divisive thought and a call to try and work together with the government was more powerful than any bitter rhetoric or emotional manipulation. I think it takes wisdom and wit think of such a situation in such a way.

This brings me to today's word: magnanimity. Magnanimity is the quality of being centred and good, and being able to maintain this in the face of hardship, or as Wikipedia puts it:

Magnanimity (derived from the Latin roots magna great, and animus, mind, literally means greatly generous) is the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes. 

I know it sounds like something a mere mortal can't achieve, but we should still aim towards it. Life, politics and any thing of importance to humanity are not competitions. Competitiveness is for games and sport. We need to be willing to at least try to approach the important issues with magnanimity if our goal is genuinely to achieve some good in the world. I think our motives and ideas for achieving goodness can differ, but we should not let that distract us. Our willingness to accept differences and work towards common goodness should be what differentiates us from those who are working exclusively for their own good. So to paraphrase the wise and witty man above:

There are depraved people who would compare the Prime Minister to a donkey. That too I find unacceptable. All a donkey can do is bray. But it doesn't bray because it say something to say. It just brays because that is all it can do. This is why we can't have people comparing the Prime Minister with the likes of a donkey. Because even now the Prime Minister is striving to keep his promises and more than anyone else, wants to take the hand of New Zealanders and listen to what it is they want, not only to tackle child poverty and improve the quality of state housing and even investigating the allegations of dirty politics if needed, but to ensure that he is aware of and is carrying out the will of most Kiwis, at the end of the day, this is what the Prime Minister has said.

After all of that, here is a simple recipe for a citrus and liquer-scented olive oil cake to sustain you through your own self-reflection. It is moist and dense, with a delicate yet complex flavour, pairing equally well with a glass of red wine as it does with a cup of tea.



Tangelo and olive oil cake with tangelo glaze
makes 1 loaf and 6 cupcakes or 1 22cm round or square cake
adapted from food52

cake
2c flour
1 3/4c sugar
1tsp salt
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp baking powder
1 1/3c extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4c milk
3 eggs
1 1/2Tb grated tangelo rind (feel free to use another variety of citrus)
1/4c tangelo juice
1/4c Grand Marnier

glaze
1/4 icing sugar
2tsp tangelo juice
1tsp of tangelo rind

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius and butter and grease the appropriate sized pan (loaf plus muffin tin or 22cm cake tin depending on the shape you are after).
2. In one bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and leavening. In another, whisk together the remaining cake ingredients.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and whisk until just combined.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tins. Muffin-sized cakes take about 18-20 minutes, loaf sized 30-40 minutes and a 22cm cake takes about 1 hour. Check for doneness with a toothpick. I found that my loaf cake browned quite quickly, and I covered it with a sheet of aluminium foil from about 30 minutes (then baked the cake for about 10 minutes longer).
5. Unmould the cake and cool on a wire rack. Once the cake has cooled, stir the ingredients for the glaze together and slowly pour over the cake.

The cake will keep for 4 days at room temperature when stored in an airtight container.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

More forays into Korean, meat-free cooking

This week I started dabbling with a new hobby that combines my interest in Korean and meat-free cuisines, I picked up a bag of soy beans and I've been experimenting with tofu and it's affiliate soy products. I haven't mastered tofu yet (my silken tofu is alright) but I have found an awesome recipe for using up the left over soy meal after the soy milk has been extracted.

Homemade soy is delicious
Soy milk is made by soaking, peeling, boiling and pureeing soy beans, then extracting the resulting liquid. Homemade unsweetened, unseasoned soy milk has a delicious creaminess that is different from cows milk but is just as tasty, it is actually quite different from store-bought soy milk which often has quite strange undertones to the flavour. It only keeps for 3-4 days but it is easy to drink a batch in that time.

One by-product of soy milk production is soy meal (called 비지 'biji' in Korean). Traditionally, it is used to make a stew with kimchi and pork, and it is also incorporated to fritters (전 'jeon'). I made a batch flavoured with leeks, using a mixture of plain flour and potato flour and was very impressed with the results - sweet and savoury from the leeks, slightly nutty and moist from the soy meal, and with a nice chew from the potato flour. The exterior is pan-fried until crisp and golden. I've made them two days in a row so far and we've eaten them all.

I pressed a pansy into each jeon for added whimsy.

Hopefully my tofu technique improves to the point where I can share the method with you, but here are the recipes for soy milk and soy meal fritters (비지전 biji jeon) in the meantime.

Soy milk
makes around 1 litre

1c soy beans (I tracked down some non-GMO ones from the local Asian supermarket)
lots of water
(optional: 1/2c of cashews or almonds)

You will need a blender or food mill as well as a piece of muslin or cheesecloth that is about 40cm square for this recipe

1. Soak the beans in a large bowl of water for at least 10 hours.
2. Rinse the beans and scrub them between your hands to peel off the filmy skins. The skins float and can be skimmed off if you fill the bowl with water. You will have to scrub and skim multiple times.
3. Boil the skinned beans for 15 minutes. Drain off the water.
4. Place cooked beans (with nuts if you're using them) in a blender with 1 cup of water and blend into a thick puree. Add another cup of water and blend to combine.
5. Fold the cloth in half then in half again to get a 20cm square. Place this over a small pot and pour the soy bean slurry into the cloth. Gather up the corners and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible.
6. Return the soy solids (meal) to the blender and blend with 2 more cups of water. Squeeze through the cloth again to extract soy milk.
7. Boil the soy milk for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid browning.
8. Transfer to a container and store in the fridge once cool. Consume within 3-4 days.
9. Keep the soy meal in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

비지전 Biji jeon Soy meal fritters
makes about 15 small fritters
adapted from this Korean blog

1c soy meal
3/4-1c thinly sliced leeks (you can use garlic chives or green onions or a combination of them all)
1 1/4c water
1c plain flour
1/4c potato flour
3/4tsp salt

vegetable oil for frying (I used coconut oil)

1. Combine all the ingredients except for the oil in a medium sized bowl. 
2. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add 1Tb of oil.
3. Drop tablespoon sized dollops of batter onto the frying pan. Cook each side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown in colour.
4. Repeat until all the batter is gone, adding more oil to the frying pan as needed. The fritters need to cook in a thin layer of oil to develop a nice colour.
5. Serve immediately.

You can make a dipping sauce of 2Tb soy sauce, 1/2tsp vinegar, 1/2tsp each of gochugaru, toasted sesame seeds and diced green onion, to serve alongside the fritters if you like.