After living in Hong Kong with its many western conveniences (I could easily buy non Asian goods with no problem) moving to Seoul, Korea was hard for me. I was used to being able to easily shop for whatever ingredients I needed and cooked whatever I liked with no problem.
In Seoul, I found myself improving my Korean cooking, simply because there was so much Korean food available; it just made sense to cook Korean. Not only was it more convenient, it was much more economical. With my grandmother by my side, I learned so much of the traditional foods of my country and it was wonderful.
Until Thanksgiving rolled around. In Hong Kong, I was able to run to one of a number of supermarkets and get almost every single item I needed to host a full-fledged Thanksgiving meal. The turkey was delivered to me defrosted and I managed to feed 30 people out of the world's tiniest refrigerator. Turkey, ham, stuffing - several pies - the full works came out of that tiny kitchen and fridge. Seoul was not as convenient -there were some western food import shops that would have a lot of what I needed, but they were pricey. Costco was where I ended up buying the turkey (a British turkey with an accent) and I also got my ham there. I had to figure out dessert however.
Husband flew to HK for business so I sent him to a store for pumpkin and he brought back 8 precious cans for me. But I decided that I needed more than pumpkin pie for our meal extravaganza (invite list of 30 people) so I decided to try making something I'd never made - sweet potato pie. I made it with a Korean twist, using Korean sweet potatoes (고구마). The evening of the party it drew better reviews than the regular pumpkin pie.
Since coming back to the US, I haven't had the urge to make sweet potato pie, but for my church small group I decided to try it again - to see if it still tasted good and to see if it would be a favorite. With a topping of homemade sweetened whipped cream...well let's just say there are no leftovers.
This pie in particular really appeals to the Korean palate, as I think it has a restrained sweetness that comes through, but isn't overwhelming. Koreans are also incredibly loyal to their sweet potatoes and the flavor of them simply can't be beat. The texture is different from traditional sweet potato pie as it has a firmness and structure that normal sweet potatoes cannot bring.
As a note, I do make my own homemade pie crust, but feel free to use one of those premade pie crusts. It will save you a few steps. Those of you interested in making your own crust, I've included a recipe. I used to make pie crusts by hand using only a pastry cutter and a bit of elbow grease. Those of you not inclined to washing a huge food processor or do not own one, definitely invest in a pastry cutter.
Korean Sweet Potato Pie
1 9 inch pie crust, prepared
2.5 lbs of Korean/Japanese sweet potatoes
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (or substitute 1 teaspoon ground ginger spice)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 beaten egg white, for brushing onto pie crust.Preheat oven to 400. With a fork, puncture your sweet potatoes with a few pricks. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until potatoes are squishy, anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour. Allow to cool. (I usually do these first thing in the morning and set them aside.)
Preheat oven to 400. When sweet potatoes are nice and cool, scoop out potato flesh. Take 2 cups of sweet potatoes and put them in a bowl. Mash them up with a potato masher OR process them with a hand blender. Get the texture to be fairly smooth and uniform.
Add cream and brown sugar. Mix until well blended. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger and cinnamon. Mix well.
Brush pie crust with beaten egg white. Pour sweet potato filling into crust. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes, or until filling is set.
Serve with whipped cream.
Bon Appétit | 2000 by Elinor Klivans
Printable recipeMakes one 9-inch crust
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons (or more) ice water
Food processor: Mix flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Process just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until dough is firm enough to roll out, about 30 minutes.
Pastry blender: Mix flour, sugar and salt in bowl. Add butter and shortening. Using pastry blender, pushing through the butter and shortening, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Continue blending just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until dough is firm enough to roll out, about 30 minutes.
Roll out dough on lightly floured work surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold overhang under. Crimp edges decoratively. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)