So what’s better than eating your vegetables?
Eating your vegetables and winning dinner for two!!! At one of these lovely restaurants!!! Okay sorry I’m not talking about an opportunity for you. This is what I won, thanks to the VegOut! Challenge. During the month of March, they’re challenging all participants to eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days. Which basically means eat a lot more vegetables. Which everyone needs. Especially this guy, probably.
Anyway it’s a Houston-based challenge, but I think anyone can participate and it’s not too late to register! Do it! Then you too can win awesome prizes and the most awesome prize of all–fabulous health from eating vegetables 😉
(I won by submitting this veggie burger to their latest flash contest calling for the best cooked dish (i.e. no salads) with the most number of vegetables. Turns out between my fridge/pantry/freezer, I had 15 vegetables and that’s not even counting the canned tomatoes I’m saving for burrito bowls. Is this level of vegetable possession alarming?! Discuss.)
So this brings us to vegetables in pancakes. The inspiration for these pancakes came from reading about these (I no longer read her blog unless I know Asian food is within a four-hour reach). Dreamy chewy rice balls oozing with a sparkling trail of black sesame sugar caught my attention and would not let go and so, in what’s turning out to be a series of slightly blasphemous twists on Asian food, here we are with black sesame sweet potato pancakes.
The earthy, barely-sweet dough is simple—just roasted sweet potato flesh and enough rice flour to give some structure and chewiness. The black sesame sugar stuffed inside turns molten once cooked, yielding chewy little nuggets that unleash a river of melty black sugary goodness. They’re sort of a nod to hotteok, Korean pancakes that are typically filled with brown sugar or other sweeteners, and sort of a nod to Chinese glutinous rice dumplings stuffed with black sesame paste. Except that they walk the line of neither. In any case, they make excellent little doughy snacks and they are mostly VEGETABLE!
This dough was extreeeemely wet and a bit tough to manage. I have to warn you: it will take some wrestling. In the recipe, I note that you can add more flour to make the dough stiffer, but beware of adding too much for fear of a gluey dough. The tough part is forming the pancakes and getting their messy, gloppy selves into the pan—once they hit heat, they stiffen up and become neat, compact patties that look at you all innocently like “why do your hands look like they just murdered a pumpkin?”
These pancakes are chewy black sesame-stuffed nuggets that are great for snacking. The dough is finicky to handle, but they fry up beautifully.
- For the black sesame sugar:
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- For the pancakes:
- 3/4 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato (baking the potato yields the best and sweetest flavor, but you can also microwave or steam it)
- 10 tablespoons sweet rice or glutinous rice flour
- ½ tablespoon sugar (more to taste)
- white or black sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
Rinse your sesame seeds in a very fine mesh strainer and then toast in a skillet over medium heat until they begin to pop. In a food processor, add the toasted sesame seeds and sugars. Process until fully combined and the seeds have reached the consistency of sugar (do not overprocess to a paste).
Stir the sweet potato together with the sweet rice flour and sugar until fully combined. Add more rice flour, a tablespoon at a time if the dough seems unmanageable sticky. You can add additional sweetener to compensate for any added starch to taste.
Start preheating a lightly greased pan over medium heat. Scoop out slightly mounded tablespoons of dough at a time and flatten in your palm. Fill with ½ teaspoon of black sesame sugar and gently fold the edges of the pancake over the mound of sesame sugar. This can be a finicky process; I’ve found wetting my hands with a little water helps keep the dough from sticking quite as much.
Press a few sesame seeds on top (this is purely for aesthetic purposes).
Nudge the tablespoon of dough directly from your palm into the pan. These are so delicate that I found I had to cook them as I made them; there can be no transferring of the pancakes from your palm to anywhere else lest you tear them.
Cook for a few minutes on each side until golden. Eat warm!
The recipe as written will make more than double the amount of sesame sugar you'll need, but I wasn't sure if my food processor would manage to properly process half the amount. Use the rest to make another batch, or throw it into a frosting for an interesting kick!