Friday, April 1, 2016

Korean Donuts? You betcha!

Phyllis Louise Harris
April 2016

Mention Korean food and I immediately think of barbecued ribs and kimchi. But, Korean donuts? They are not part of my tasting memory.

There is so much to learn about Asian cooking that researching, testing and tasting have been a big part of my life for more than 40 years. When I was researching Korean food for the book Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, I turned to the co-founder and managing editor of Korean Quarterly Martha Vickery for guidance. While I had eaten Korean food in the Twin Cities and in San Francisco and had interviewed a number of Korean chefs, my knowledge was limited. Martha took me on a culinary tour and introduced me to her food writer, Mary Lee Vance, PhD. What a wonderful journey to take; one that you, too, can experience.

Each issue of Korean Quarterly offers a wide variety of Korean news, views, reviews, entertainment and food information. In the Winter 2016 issue, Mary Lee offered some insight about a food that is found in nearly every cuisine – fried bread. Donuts, crullers, beignets, klejner, sai yong or whatever name they are called appear all over the world. Basically, they are all fried bread. In Korea there are several including kkwabaegi that is like a twisted donut or cruller or hotteok, more like a pancake.

According to her recent column, when Mary Lee gets a craving for donuts, she turns to refrigerated biscuits or frozen bread dough and sometimes makes hotteok, a popular “Korean street food that is a kind of pancake, but thicker and doughier, usually with a filling featuring crushed peanuts. Hotteok mix is sold in Korean stores, but with a little ingenuity one can make a very reasonable facsimile with something like frozen bread dough.” Just shape it into rolls and fill them with brown sugar, crushed peanuts and a touch of cinnamon before frying.

Her article includes a recipe for kkwabaegi from the website of  “ Maangechi, a chef who has been teaching the basics of Korean cooking on the Web for years.” Basically it is yeast dough that is shaped into twists and coated with sugar and cinnamon. The finished kkwabaegi can be frozen and thawed to enjoy later as well.

For more information about Korean Quarterly go to  KQ has received more than 20 awards of excellence from the MN Newspaper Association, was nominated for a national award for Ethnic Issues in 2002, received several awards from Korean organizations and is a member of the Korean American Journalists Association. For the complete recipe for kkwabaegi go to . And check out her other recipes. They are a great way to start that journey through Korean cuisine. Also visit your local Korean restaurants and markets to taste the wonderful flavors of Korea.



Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, in bookstores and on
Watch the EMMY® award winning “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tpt MN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at: