It’s been awhile since I’ve made some home-cooked pajeon (scallion pancakes) despite always having an abundant supply of scallion/green onions in the fridge. And having recently bought some makgeolli (Korean rice wine) varieties from my recent trip to Geochang (40km southwest of Daegu), the first thing that came to mind was pajeon, a popular anju (aka side dish for drinking). Thus far, I’ve done regular pajeon (scallion pancakes), haemul pajeon (seafood), buseot pajeon (mushroom) and now, if there is such a thing, red cabbage pajeon. This new ingredient wasn’t intentional, but rather the result of having leftover veggies that I didn’t want to throw away. Luckily for me (someone who experiments with new ingredients all the time), the two ingredients couldn’t have worked better together. The red cabbage gave the pancakes an awesome color combination and added a nice crunchy texture that fit perfectly with the scallions and the softness of the pancakes. When it was all said and done, I was thoroughly happy with the end result and found another versatile ingredient to work with.
A little more about pajeon: One of many jeon varieties that contain green onions/ scallions as its prominent ingredient. In translation, jeon is the actual battered ingredient and pa means green onions/scallions in Korean. The basic type of this dish consists of just scallions along with pancake mix and eggs but endless variations of this dish exists by simply adding other ingredients such as seafood (haemul), kimchi, or vegetables. This is a popular dish known as anju (side dish for drinking) where many Koreans order this along with soju and/or makgeolli, Korea’s version of vodka and rice wine, respectively.
“Sleep ’til you’re hungry, eat ’til you’re sleepy.” ~Author Unknown
- 2 cups Korean pancake mix (or all-purpose flour)
- 2 cups cold water
- 2 eggs
- 1 bunch scallions/green onions, cut in halves or quartered
- ⅙ head of red cabbage, shredded or thinly sliced
- olive oil
- dash of salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp soy sauce (or light soy sauce)
- 1 tbsp water
- ½ tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp brown sugar (or honey)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- ½ tsp gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes; optional)
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)
- Mix the batter ingredients (minus the green onions and red cabbage) together in a mixing bowl until a semi-thick batter mixture is created. Thin batter=thin pancake; thick batter=thick pancake.
- Wash and then cut green onions and red cabbage accordingly.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add a generous amount of canola/olive oil. Pour batter evenly over the pan, and then add green onions, red cabbage shavings, and whisked eggs on top. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the bottom and its edges are browned. Carefully flip over and cook another 5 minutes or until browned.
- Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the dipping sauce and set aside. Depending on your preference, extra sugar/honey may be added to create a sweeter dipping sauce.
- Transfer to serving plate whole, or cut pancakes into desired pieces along with the dipping sauce.
- *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" about 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 whisked eggs 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.