Mung Dal Savoury Pancakes

While playing with some alternatives to scrambled eggs someone asked if I’d ever heard of a mung bean pancake, as it might be a good substitute for omelette? A Korean friend of theirs had given them the recipe and they were not at all difficult. However, I was rather puzzled when my first attempt looked rather like a burger (more on that another time) until I discovered it was far better to use mung dal split lentils instead; those being the small yellow ones without peel.

As it was sesshin, I wondered when to serve them. Then I remembered that many of the formal oryoki meals in Japanese training temples were often inundated with side dishes donated by the members (one time we were served donuts, and on another occasion sponge cake with custard for which everyone was grateful). That being the case, I thought it might work during oryoki as a little extra with the soup. Indeed, almost all five dozen of them disappeared into the mouths of the thirty something participants.

These really are incredibly easy to make, surprisingly light, and I’m thinking amazingly versatile. They could be the perfect gluten-free, vegan pancake; omelette substitute; midnight snack; or party buffet finger food and when Jifu admitted they are ridiculously addictive, I could only agree.

Makes about twelve savoury pancakes.

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200 g (1 cup) split mung dal lentils
Salt to taste
1–2 cloves garlic
20 grams (2 tablespoons) fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro)
2 stem green onions
4 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
Oil for frying

  • Rinse and drain the mung lentils. Put in a bowl and cover with triple the amount of water. Leave to soak overnight in a cool place, or until they have doubled in size, about 4–6 hours. Drain and rinse the lentils and add 240 ml (1 cup) water or enough to just cover them.
  • Peel and chop the garlic and ginger.
  • Roughly chop the coriander.
  • Cut the green onions into thin slices.

  • First combine the lentils, water, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce and whizz with an immersion blender. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth and should have a dropping consistency like thick pancake batter.
  • Stir in the coriander and green onions.

  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium flame. Test the heat with a drop of batter, it should sizzle when hot.
  • Drop spoonfuls of batter into the frying pan without crowding (about 50 ml {¼ cup} each). Fry until the edges start to turn dark golden, about 3–5 minutes. Carefully tease the pancake loose with a flat spatula and flip and fry for a further 3–5 minutes, or until golden.
  • Add more oil to the frying pan if it becomes too dry.
  • Serve with a Korean-style dipping sauce; 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar combined with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, some sesame oil and a little chilli.

Tip: if it falls apart after the first frying, drain a little of the water from the batter. It sometimes helps to brush some oil into the frying pan between flipping to prevent sticking.

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