Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Expat's Oven: Enchiladas Edition

A while back, one of my friends mentioned that I should write about food on my blog.  She was listening to me describe how I baked something-or-other and suggested that I blog about my M.O., where I've found western ingredients, etc.  Hmm... it wasn't a bad idea! I like to cook; I love to bake. It's what I do when I'm stressed, bored, have company, or have any other excuse for getting in the kitchen. I've accumulated a fair amount of cooking and baking supplies over the past 15 months and I have several friends who are like-minded. We hunt for ingredients all over the country and share our finds with each other (Ex: I found frozen cranberries at Home Plus! or Oh, yeah, it's on, of course, or The Daiso downtown has baking pans now!!), so why not share them with the rest of the internet?  As much as I (we) love Korean food, I know I'm not the only one who misses food from home.

Starting today, I'm beginning a series called The Expat's Oven.  I'll post recipes and links to help anyone else who might want to make western food in their own Korean kitchen! It's one of the most constructive things I can do to stay sane on the days when I want to go crazy. I don't think anyone minds my strategy, especially when I show up to work or friends' homes with banana bread and brownies in tow.

So now, without further ado...

The Expat's Oven: Enchiladas Edition 

Y'all know I looove Mexican food* but because I lived in Texas my whole life, I had very little reason to make it myself.  Why bother?  There are 50 restaurants within a 15 minute drive that satisfy.  My fajitas will never be as good as Margarita & Peppers' are, and my enchiladas are a joke compared to those at El Bosque.  Want tamales?  You know of someone's abuela (grandma) who takes orders of a dozen at a time.  Tex-Mex influenced a lot of what my family would eat (my dad and sister-in-law go through the industrial-sized tubs of jalapenos like you wouldn't believe), but I never had a reason to learn how to make it myself.

That is, until I moved here.  There are a few Mexican restaurants in Korea, but it's not the same.  They're ok, but it's not home.

Not only that, it's hard to find the right fixings.  I was perusing iHerb a while back and came across a jar of enchilada sauce and decided maybe I could make my own sometime.  When my church decided to have a Mexican-food-themed potluck lunch in March, I did it! For the first time, I made enchiladas!

Here's how:

I started by browning ground pork (approx. 300g) with fajita seasoning (2 T, or more to taste). Pork is easy to find in Korea (whereas beef is crazy-expensive), but you can easily go with shredded chicken if you're keen.  You can also add diced onion or peppers - I'll be doing that next time!

Here's a close-up of the fajita seasoning, which I easily found at Home Plus.

Once the meat is browned, set it to the side and get out your tortillas. It's easy to find tortillas in the freezer section at Lotte Mart, Home Plus, and E Mart. They're large, white flour tortillas, perfect for burritos and wraps. 

You'll need to defrost the tortillas, since they're frozen.  I prefer to warm them up in a pan (rather than a microwave) and stack them under a clean towel to keep them warm while you work.

Once your tortillas are ready, you roll about 2 scoops of pork (or more, if you want a meatier enchilada. I was going for cheesy over meaty) and 1/3 c. cheese in a tortilla:

This time, I used "Pizza Cheese" purchased at Home Plus. It's a low-quality cheese, but it's all I could find at the time. Mmmm plastic cheese. Delish ;)

Prepare a 9x13 pan by pouring 1/4 c. of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan. (I bought my pan in the USA - has anyone found a 9x13 in Korea? Either I've never seen one, or I've never seen one for less than 20,000 won and I just won't spend that much on a cake pan. I can't remember which is the reason I didn't buy one the first year.)

Here's a pic of the enchilada sauce I mentioned: Frontera - classic red chile. Here's the product link on

Roll the tortilla with the pork and cheese

 and place the tortillas side-by-side in the pan like so:

Once your pan has about 8 roll-ups sitting side-by-side, cover the tortilla rolls with the remaining cheese and enchilada sauce.

To get a more golden color, I also used "Golden Mix" cheese to top the enchiladas. It's just another low-quality cheese that I found and I hoped it would make the enchiladas a little more visually appealing, but there was not much "gold" going on in this cheese. Bummer. Anyway, I used one pouch (70g) to cover the pan.

And voila!

If you only want to use one bag of cheese, you'd have enough even if you skip the cheese layer before the enchilada sauce layer and use that to sprinkle on the top. I just made them really cheesy.

Bake in the oven at 200*C for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling.

And there you have it! Enchiladas in a Korean kitchen. 

They turned out fine, but if I make them again I'd do a few things differently. For starters, I'd make enchilada sauce from scratch (the jar wasn't anything to write home about) and I would use different cheese (since I have finally discovered the greatness of the Costco in Daejeon! Costco has REAL CHEESE.  Oh sweet goodness and mercy!). Some western restaurants will also sell block cheese, if you're lucky (shout out to First Alleyway in Gwangju! Those guys are awesome!) 

*DISCLAIMER: When I talk about Mexican food (as when most people in South Korea talk about Mexican food), I'm talking Tex-Mex. I realize that stuff like burritos aren't authentic Mexican and you won't usually find flour tortillas south of the border. I'm a gringa from north of the border. And we're in Korea. Bear with me, folks. I don't intend to offend anyone's heritage with my take on my favorite food. 

Printer-friendly directions to copy/paste: 

1 16 oz. jar "Frontera" enchilada sauce - classic red chile 
300 g ground pork
2 T (or more, to taste)"Fresh & Easy" Fajita seasoning (found at Home Plus)
8 flour tortillas (Home Plus - freezer section)
500 g "Pizza Cheese" (Home Plus)
1-70 g packet of "Golden Mix" cheese (Home Plus)

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C.

2. Spread 1/4 c of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking pan. 

3. Brown the ground pork on medium heat with 1/4 c water and sprinkle with fajita seasoning.  Let it simmer down until the water has evaporated. Optional: add diced onion or peppers.  

4. Warm the tortillas in a pan to soften them, but not so much that they get crispy, and stack them to keep them warm while you work. Optional: brush each side with a little oil before you heat them.

5. Roll 1/3 c "pizza cheese" with 2 small scoops of pork in each tortilla.  Place them side-by-side in the baking pan. 

6. Cover the tortilla rolls with remaining pizza cheese and the rest of the sauce. 

7. Sprinkle with the packet of golden mix cheese.  

8. Bake 15-20 minutes.  

Can be frozen and heated up when you're ready to serve it. Reheat at 200*C 20-25 minutes from frozen. You'll know they're ready when they're bubbling!

No comments:

Post a Comment