7 (Fri) May 2010
(see index WHAT)
(see index WHERE)
-Hannam, Yongsan, Seoul, Korea-
Bindae ddeok (빈대떡) is a Korean dish. It consists primarily of ground mung beans, as well as flour and egg to make the batter, along with optional ingredients, such as bits of pork, bean sprouts, onions, scallions, etc. On a generously oiled griddle or pan, the batter is cooked into patties, typically around 10 cm wide and 1 cm thick.
The name of the dish varies from place to place, person to person. Most commonly, it’s called “bindae ddeok,” as here. However, ddeok is a rice cake, whereas this is technically a jeon (전). Second, the meaning of “bindae” in this context is subject to speculation, though several sources suggest that the etymology may derive from “binja” (빈자), which means “poor person.” Those who subscribe to this theory hold that these types of pancakes were traditionally made by mashing up whatever ingredients were available, especially during hard times. If true, then mung beans would be inappropriate, as they were once rare and beyond the means of the average populace. In further keeping with the humble origins of the dish, meat and other fancy additions would also be precluded. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave much room for anything, as even flour was a luxury back in the day. In any event, some sticklers insist that the dish as it’s now prepared should be referred to as “nokdu jeon,” the “nokdu” meaning “mung bean.” For now, I’ll continue to call it “bindae ddeok,” as did the restaurant here.