It’s been a while since I made one of the many kinds of Korean jeons, so it was only natural that I make some when I came into possession of a handful of local chili peppers. And continuing with my healthier diet and lifestyle, I decided to make this gochu jeon without any ground pork or beef. Since these particular jeons are pretty light (not because they’re vegetarian), it’s often nice to pair with other banchan side dishes and possibly a jjigae (stew/soup) to get a complete, heartier meal. For those who can’t go without any meat (I used to fall in this category), you’re more than welcome to add a protein of your liking.
A little more about jeon: there are numerous varieties of jeon that are traditionally served at large gatherings, parties, and special holidays. In most Korean communities and villages, you can see ajummas (married women) and halmonis (grandmothers) cooking these in huge batches the day before or on the day of special festivities. These are great dishes for the simple fact that they’re healthy, delicious, and they keep for several days as a nice banchan side dish. Flashback: I still remember my mom and her friends cooking these all day at home before a party while us kids played outside and stole a bite whenever we could. My personal favorite included saengseon jeon (fish filets), hobak jeon (zucchini), and kkaetnip jeon (perilla leaves), which I will be making maybe during this Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). So, if you’re gonna make any kind of jeon, make sure to cook them in batches for later meals.
- 1 block firm tofu, drained or dried with paper towel
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 2 green onion, chopped
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp flour for mix (more if necessary to remove excess liquid from tofu)
- 2 tbsp flour for coating
- 1 beaten egg
- 10 green or red chili peppers, halved & deseeded
- olive oil for frying
- Wearing disposable or plastic gloves, halve the chili peppers with a knife. If the peppers are relatively small, cut about ⅓ leaving more room for the stuffing. Deseed the peppers, rinse under cold water, and set aside. Do not touch any part of your face while wearing the gloves!
- Combine the flour, tofu, onion, garlic, green onions, sesame oil, sugar, pepper and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly by hand or even a whisk. The stuffing should be void of excess water or liquid.
- Stuff the peppers accordingly and then gently roll them in the flour, shaking off any excess. Next, coat the peppers into the beaten egg.
- In a large frying pan, add olive oil and gently pan-fry the chili peppers over medium heat until the mixture is cooked through, roughly 5 minutes on the stuffing side and a few minutes reversed. Enjoy while it's hot!
- If there is leftover stuffing and remaining halved chili peppers, you can saute it together or you can form into small bite-sized patties similar to jeon (Korean pancake). Just make sure to roll them into the flour and dip into the egg mixture