▲ Traditional Bingdduck are easy to make and a staple of Jeju festivals and events. Photo courtesy Agricultural Research and Extension Services of Jeju Provincial Govt
Walking through the bustling Five-Day Market in Shin Jeju is a joyous assault to the senses. The strong smells of kimchee, roasting meat, and frying snacks, and the steam rising from bowls of soup at the many restaurant stalls raise the appetite.
In the north side of the market where the grandmothers sell their garden produce, a group of three women huddle in a small stall, working quickly in concert to churn out plates of Bingdduck.
One stands over the large, flat griddle and quickly turns thin round buckwheat pancakes on the heat. The second woman sets her strong hands to work quickly laying out each cake and filling it with white radish steamed soft and seasoned.
She rolls each one up in one swift move and piles them on the table, where the third woman loudly hawks her wares, pushing the treats into the hands of market goers.
Bingdduck is one of Jeju’s special foods. The thin pancake has a light texture and a slightly sweet flavor balanced perfectly by the savory, slightly salty, nature of the filling.
The filling is made of radish strips steamed and tossed with salt, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Bingdduck is cool, salty and refreshing in the summer heat. It has a mild flavor, gentle texture, and is easy to handle, making it a great snack for children or anyone laden with market purchases. Although the radish filling is more common, sometimes red bean paste is used.
An ancient recipe, Bingdduck has been made in Jeju for over 700 years. It is sometimes called ‘straw mat dduck’ because the pancake is rolled up like a straw mat. Bingdduck is traditionally served at every ceremony including marriages, funerals, and ancestral worship days.
You may find Bingdduck as a side dish at a restaurant or served at a ceremony, but if not, head for the Five-Day Market (Oh Il Jang) in Shin Jeju and look for the Bingdduck vendors. Or, if you are up to the challenge, try making it yourself.
To make Bingdduck at home, prepare the filling and the pancake. To make the filling, slice a large white radish into thin vertical strips. Steam or boil it until soft, drain, and season with salt, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. To make the pancake, knead buckwheat flour and water into dough and form a thin circle about 8 inches across. At the market, the pancakes are cooked on large flat griddles, but at home use a frying pan. Grease the pan with oil, or use the traditional lard, and cook briefly on both sides until it is set, but not brown. Lay the pancake out, fill with seasoned radish, and roll up.
Try Bingdduck and you’ll experience a part of Jeju heritage. Enjoy it as a delicious low calorie snack or a palette cleansing side dish. The salty, refreshing flavor is perfect on a hot summer day.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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