With our recent visit to Chicago and finally getting my hands on Korean makgeolli (fermented rice wine), I had to make its ideal anju (drinking side dish)—pajeon— that is popular among Koreans and foreigners. It’s been a while since I had pajeon (literally translated pa=green onion and jeon=pancake, thus green onion pancake), but with fresh, cold makgeolli on hand I had to make it. And with the brother-in-law being a vegetarian and all, it worked out perfect for him, while the rest of us carnivores enjoyed some with different seafood varieties. There are endless variations of this dish which can be made by adding or omitting certain ingredients according to personal preference, but some common substitutions include seafood, kimchi, Korean chives, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, and obviously green onions.The recipe below also includes a basic dipping sauce that can be made in minutes.
My brother-in-law got the healthier, vegetarian version with green onions and carrots.
Servings: 2 large pancakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 2 cups Korean pancake mix (or all-purpose flour)
- 1 cup water
- 2 eggs
- 1 bunch scallions
- 2 tbsp olive or canola oil
- 3 cups seafood medley (pre-packaged; shrimp, oysters, clams, squid)
- dash of salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (or light soy sauce)
- 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes; optional)
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
- Mix all ingredients (minus the dipping sauce) together in a mixing bowl until a thick batter is created. It should be a similar thickness as regular pancakes.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and add a generous amount of olive or canoli oil. Pour half of the batter evenly over the pan. Cook for about 7, 8 minutes or until the bottom and its edges are browned. Carefully flip over and cook another 7, 8 minutes or until browned.
- Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the dipping sauce and set aside. Depending on your preference, extra sugar may be added to create a sweeter dipping sauce.
- Transfer to serving plate whole or cut pancakes into desired pieces. Serve with the dipping sauce.
*Purchasing fresh seafood is a good option for serious seafood lovers. However, it will require more time and energy cleaning them (and sometimes gutting them) so I advise buying ready-made frozen seafood carried by most grocery stores. You can also go green/vegetarian by making the original pajeon that consists of only green onions/scallions.
**One of the best pajeons I had was a seafood version served at a popular traditional bar in Apkujeong-dong, a posh district in Seoul. The cook/owner was kind enough to spill his secrets to this awesome dish: 1) don’t mix the seafood in the batter, but place seafood pieces on top of the batter once in the pan. 2) don’t mix the eggs in the batter, but add the whisked egg on top of the seafood pieces just before flipping over the pancake. 3) lastly, be generous with salt and pepper in the batter, it makes a world of difference.