Top Korean chef Heather Jeong reveals the secret to making gujeoulpan, an elaborate dish with a regal history. Learn how to choose the right ingredients for gujeoulpan, then follow Heather’s recipe for authentic gujeoulpan at home.
“Gujeoulpan was traditionally served in the royal courts in an octagonal dish with eight ingredients and thin pancakes in the middle as its ninth. It was supposed to represent the bud of a flower. It was popular with scholars as an afternoon dish or as part of a special banquet. Even now gujeoulpan is considered as a special occasion dish.
Although the finished dish is elaborate, surprisingly the ingredients are easily sourced all year round and typically include ingredients you may have in your fridge or pantry, such as carrots, eggs and dried mushroom.
Image Courtesy: AlwaysFoodie from Google Images
The ingredients vary slightly with the season but it usually involves sections of different colours. The colours in Korean cooking usually represent direction and health benefits of your body. Gujeoulpan usually have a red or orange, white, yellow, green and brown. Egg yolk omelette and white omelette are always used to represent white and yellow, meat and mushrooms for brown and carrots for orange.”
150g-200g scotch fillet, sliced (marinated with 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp
sugar, 1 tbsp cooking sake, 1/8 tsp ground pepper, 2 tsp sesame oil)
4-6 tbsp canola oil
1 small cucumber, thinly julienned
1 small carrot, thinly julienned
6-8 shitake mushrooms, rehydrated, drained and rid of excess water (marinated with 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar, pinch ground pepper, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp cooking sake)
1 cup enoki or thinly sliced oyster mushrooms (marinated with 1/2 tbsp soy
sauce, pinch ground pepper, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tbsp cooking sake)
1/3 green or red capsicum, finely julienned
2 eggs, separated
1 cup flour, sifted
1- 1¼ cup water
2 tsp rice flour, optional
1/4 tsp salt
Pine nuts to garnish
1-2 tbsp hot or mild English mustard
3-4 rice syrup or glucose
1 tbsp water
2 tsp brown rice vinegar
1. Marinate beef with the marinade ingredients for at least 30 minutes. Cook meat in a heated frypan until the meat is cooked. It should take only a few minutes. Drain to remove meat liquid, then thinly julienne. Set aside.
2. In separate batches, briefly saute the cucumber, carrot, mushrooms and capsicums in 1 tbsp canola oil with a pinch of salt. Take care not to overcook the vegetables as they should still have some crunch. Set aside separately.
3. Separate eggs. Beat yolks and whites separately and add a pinch of salt to each. Cook into thin omelettes using an oiled heated pan. Cut yolk omelettes into thin julienne and repeat with white omelette. Set them aside.
4.For the mil jeon, mix flour, salt, rice flour (if using) and water together until you have a thin batter (similar to a thick crepe batter).
5. Heat a non-stick frypan to medium-high heat and add ½ tbsp oil. Wipe pan with a paper towel until the pan is well oiled.
6. Ladle on about 1 tbsp-1½ tbsp batter into the pan and gently press
the batter with the back of a spoon to make round 5cm-6cm diameter circle.
7. Turn heat to low and cook mil jeon briefly (around 7 seconds). Turn the mil jeon over and gently cook for about 5 seconds. It is important not to colour or burn the mil jeon.
8. You can make around 3-4 little mil jeons at a time. Repeat with the remaining batter, oiling the pan before cooking. Set mil jeons aside.
9. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
10. On a large round platter, arrange all the components of the dish separately in a circle with the crepes stacked in the middle. Serve sauce on the side. Guest help themselves by putting the julienned vegetables and meat in the middle of each crepe, rolling them up and dipping in the sauce to taste.
1. You can make different coloured mil jeons using juices of different ingredients, such as carrot, spinach or beetroot juice. Only a small amount of juice is needed to colour the crepe into faint hues. Gujeoulpan is a healthy delicate dish and therefore food colouring (even the natural food colouring) is never used when making mil jeon.
2. It is crucial not to colour or burn the mil jeon when you’re cooking them to keep them soft and pale in colour.
3. Slice the ingredients into a very fine julienne. If the ingredients are too thick it will affect the overall taste of the dish. The julienne should be 1-2mm thin.
4. Cook the different components separately. Vegetables like carrots are cooked just barely so that still has crunch without being raw.
5. Get rid of all meat juice or mushroom juice when assembling for beautiful presentation.
6. The sum of this dish is more beautiful than its parts but it’s important to keep every component in harmony and in balance for overall delicate and intricate taste.
For more Korean cooking advice from Heather, discover Heather Jeong’s fresh ways to use Korean marinades, and her top five Korean dishes to try at home.
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