A frozen nose, a burnt tongue and a sweet, sugary memory


“You know,” my mother mused aloud as she watched me frowning over a big metal bowl of dough, “most ahjumas1 don’t even bother making this from scratch because the packet mix is so good…”

I grit my teeth. “Shut up, mom!”

Seemingly oblivious to my pained request that she stop rubbing it in, she continued with “I don’t even see why you’re bothering with all this anyway…and I’m telling you, that ‘bahnjook2 doesn’t look right at all…when the ‘ho-dduk ahjumas3 make it on the streets, the dough is so sticky that they have to dip their hands in oil to handle it…and yours isn’t sticky at all!”


Yes…this is almost an exact replica of my expression following my mother’s statement…

I made a face, closed my eyes and bellowed “PLEASE shut up, mother!”, to which she responded by turning on her heel and leaving the kitchen, all the while muttering under her breath about ungrateful daughters and how they didn’t deserve such helpful comments.

Welcome to an almost daily ritual in my/our kitchen.4

Though my mother had not made these since I was a little child, I could never forget the sugar rush that followed having one of these ho-dduk, a type of filled Korean pancake made with a yeast-risen dough, and filled usually with a brown sugar & nut filling which has a crisp and crunchy exterior and a billowy chewy interior, though we also favoured paht (sweetened red bean paste) and honey. Unlike anything else I’ve ever eaten, they are perhaps one of the most sinful street snacks offered in Korea, but their fried, sugar-filled doughy goodness is known by almost every citizen and visitor to the country’s shores. Those who know may fondly recall standing in front of the vendor’s street cart, blowing on their fingers which are frozen from the chilly air (as these are usually sold during the colder months) while watching a round of filled dough being fried up before their very eyes.


A few months ago, I’d gently probed my mother on the subject…whether she remembered making these from scratch for me and my siblings when we were wee’uns, in the hopes of coaxing a recipe for them deep from the recesses of her memory. Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember the recipe to save her life, but having reminded her that we had not seen this in our kitchen for many many years, she went out the next day and bought a packet mix that her friend recommended to her.

Uhh, thanks ma, but you know how I feel about packet mixes5

Despite my misgivings about almost all the ingredients coming out of a box, I had to admit that they were pretty damn good…but alas, I just could not get over the fact that they were made with a mix and could not get into the devouring that the rest of my family apparently didn’t have any qualms with (they went through two boxes in two days!).

“Ma…is there anyway that you could get an actual recipe for these?”

“Why? What’s wrong with these packet ones? They’re so easy!”

“Come on ma…this is me we’re talking about here…ME! You know what I’m like!”

(After much rolling of eyes in my direction) “Ugh, fine, I’ll ask around and see if I can rustle one up!”

And wouldn’t you know it, my mother came through! A few weeks ago, she emerged from the living room whilst triumphantly wielding a piece of paper where she had taken down a recipe from a friend of hers which I hurrahed at, then promptly forgot all about. Yes, Ellie’s ridiculously forgetful memory strikes again. In fact, it was only on Sunday that I remembered that I had been wanting to try these, so I sat down and looked over my mother’s chicken scratch. I’d show you, except that it was so bad that I rewrote the recipe and tossed her note out!

So, Sunday night was spent mixing and kneading and shaping and frying till I had a small heap of reasonably OK little hodduk resting on a plate…and while hodduk are meant to be enjoyed fresh off the hotplate, I was presented with a bit of a problem. You see, even when they’re cold, these should retain some of their light chewiness, but this particular recipe resulted in little pancakes that could be used in a game of discus once they turned lukewarm.

Definitely not ideal.

So what could I do? Well, after my mother had confirmed with her friend that this was a fault with the recipe and not something that I had done wrong, I turned to the internet to look for alternative recipes. I found two which sounded alright, except for the distinct lack of glutinous rice flour. I’m sorry, but for something to qualify as ‘dduk’ (rice cake), it kinda sorta has to have rice powder in it…in my humble opinion anyway. Without it, its just plain old bread/cake. However, looking at these two recipes did give me some ideas as to how I could (quite vastly) alter my mother’s friends recipe into something that might perhaps be a lot more usable!

After checking and rechecking quantities, I finally gave the adapted recipe a try today, and I have to admit that these hodduk are almost as good cold as they are warm! I say almost, as nothing can compare with the sweet calorie-laden euphoria experienced with a fresh piping hot one, but its nice to know that you don’t *have* to eat ’em all in one sitting and can space out the guilt-injections over a few days.

That’s if you can resist them, that is… 😉


(Korean yeast-risen pancakes with sweet nut filling)

Ingredients (makes 15-20)
500g all-purpose flour
250g glutinous rice powder
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp light flavoured oil (e.g. light olive oil)
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 cup warm milk

1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup roasted peanuts or walnuts, crushed
1 – 1.5 tbsp ground cinnamon

1. Mix together the yeast, sugar, salt, oil and vinegar in 1/2 cup of warm water till all is dissolved, then set aside for 10 minutes so the yeast can come back to life. Meanwhile, sift together the flour and glutinous rice powder and set aside.

2. Once the yeast has activated, mix it together with the remaining 1 cup of warm water and 3/4 cup of warm milk, then pour in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture begins to come together into a ball, lightly oil your benchtop and tip the dough out to knead it for 1-2 minutes. Lightly oil the inside of your bowl, then shape the dough into a ball and place it back inside the bowl. Cover with cling wrap and leave for 2-3hrs, or till doubled in size.

3. While the dough is resting, mix together the ingredients for the filling, taste it and alter it accordingly (if you want it a bit sweeter then add more sugar…or if you want more cinnamon, add more of that). Once the dough has doubled, lightly rub your hands with oil and pour a thin layer of oil on a tray and get ready to shape the pancakes.

4. Take a small handful of dough (about the size of a large chicken egg) and lightly & VERY GENTLY stretch it out into your hand till it is a small flat disc about 1.5cm thick. Add 1-2 tbsp of filling to the middle, then carefully pinch together the sides till it forms a small ball again. Gently roll it into a uniform ball shape, then place it on the tray and continue with the rest till you’ve used all the dough. Be wary to leave plenty of room between the balls as if they stick together, they are extremely difficult to separate.

5. Heat a heavy frying pan/cast iron skillet with some oil over low-medium heat, then once it is hot enough, add a few of the dough balls to the pan. Do not overcrowd as they are going to expand and be squished and will need room to do so, so I’d say no more than about 3 at a time for a regular size frying pan. Once the bottom is golden, carefully flip over and fry so that the dough begins to expand. Once the second side begins to go golden, gently squish the pancake flat with a spatula, being careful that the dough does not rip open anywhere, allowing the filling to spill out.

6. Once the flipped side is golden brown, remove to cool on a plate. Enjoy these while still warm, as when they’re cold they’re fairly tough and stodgy…though easily reheatable in a frying pan with no added oil should they need it 🙂 Oh – and beware the hot, melted and dripping brown sugar filling – it is dangerous but delicious!

(Try not to microwave these, it dries them out and makes them not quite so toothsome!)

[tags]cooking, recipes, pancakes, griddle cakes, yeast, dough, Korean food, Asian cuisine[/tags]

1 – This is a term used generally to refer to middle-aged married women, though it *can* be used in a somewhat derogatory manner, its general use is not

2 – The Korean word for dough/batter

3 – When the word ‘ahjuma’ is paired with a snackfood like this, it refers to the street vendors seen all over Korea, who are most usually middle-aged or older women.

4 – Please don’t take this as a bad thing, my mother and I have one of the best mother/daughter relationships that anyone could hope for, and these sort of daily teasing/banter is just all part of the fun and how we interact 🙂 And I wouldn’t change a thing about it!

5 – Call me a snob if you wish, but anything that comes out of a box and involves the words ‘pour’, ‘mix’ or ‘bake’ does not constitute cooking. I’m sorry, but no. All those White Wings and Betty Crocker cookie and cake mixes, those atrocious dehydrated ‘mashed potatoes’ which go against all things GOOD about home-cooking, and those goddamned ‘bake at home’ bread rolls that the grocery stores are selling. NO NO NO and NO!

6 – Alternative fillings include plain honey (tasty, but super difficult!) or sweetened red bean paste which can be bought premade in a can in any Asian grocery store.

7 thoughts on “A frozen nose, a burnt tongue and a sweet, sugary memory”

  1. My mom made this when I was a kid, using Phillsbury french bread dough. I thought it was the cat’s meow, and I secretly love it over the authentic stuff I tried in Korea…

  2. Can you please please convert the flour measurements into cups and email them to me? I haven’t got a kitchen scale. 😥 This sounds so tempting. Sounds somewhat like fried filled mochi. I think the Chinese has some fried filled pastries as well, one like a ball covered in sesame seeds that they serve at dim dum places. Though I can’t remember it for the life of me.

    Please and thank you! :mrgreen:

  3. Jayne – It is somewhat like fried mochi but also quite different, and definitely very different to the Chinese glutinous sesame balls 🙂 I can make a note to convert them to cup measurements and email them however I’m not sure when I’ll have time to make them again so it could unfortunately be awhile!

  4. I’m so pumped to know what these are called/how to make them now!! I’ve seen the packet mixes in stores but always thought… meh….its a mix, can’t be that good. Shame on me, but I might try the mix sometime too.

  5. I stumbled upon your site quite by accident… and AM SOOOOOO glad i did. These recipes loof fabulous and I have been missing so many Korean foods lately.

    Thank you so much! Please don’t ever stop posting 🙂

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