I adore Pajeon, the Korean savoury pancake of spring onions (scallions) that is eaten with a side dip. The word jeon, while often translated as pancake, refers to a variety of foods that have been coated with batter and fried in oil. And the word pa refers to spring onions (scallions).
Jeon includes a wide range of dishes, from the sweet to the savoury, from the simple vegetable fritter type, to the simply flavoured pajeon that is today’s recipe and the richer meat or seafood type of pancakes. They also include flaky sweet pancakes like bukkumi, that are made with rice flour and filled with a red bean filling.
Honestly, Korean cuisine has so many different types of pancakes whose descriptions overlap each other, that it is easy to get confused with what is jeon, what is buchimgae and what is hotteok!
But, thankfully, pajeon, today’s recipe, is extremely easy to make, it is just a case of making up the batter, a 2 minute job, frying the spring onions, pouring the batter over and leaving it to cook for a few minutes. You have to be a lover of spring onions to love this one, though, as it is not just the star, but the superstar of the show.
I can never resist ordering pajeon whenever we dine out at my favourite local Korean restaurant, Korean Grill. It is here that I first noticed, years ago, that their pajeon had a slightly different taste and flavour to it; marginal, but it was there. I found out that they use rice flour in their batter, as well as a teaspoon of doenjang (soybean paste). The soybean paste added a much needed flavour boost to the batter, and that’s why, mine was always a lacklustre affair compared to these guys’! Not anymore, now that I know the secret to a good pajeon! The rice flour also added a touch of crisp to the final pancake, which is always a good thing as far as pancakes go.
Pajeon can be eaten as a snack, an appetiser or a starter, think Spanish tortilla, it can be served in exactly the same manner. It’s great for buffets, cut up in little squares.
So, let’s start with the simple pajeon, and over time, we’ll look at the seafood one, as well as some Korean classics like bulgogi and bibimbap.
Have you tried Korean food and are you a fan?
Pajeon Recipe is a Korean savoury spring onion (scallion) pancake.
- 1 tsp soy bean paste
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- pinch of salt
- pinch of sugar
- a bunch of spring onions (scallions), about 12 stalks
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- pinch of sugar
- 1 small shallot, sliced or chopped
- 1 red chilli, sliced or chopped
- Mix the soybean paste with about 1 tablespoon of the water to lighten.
- Place everything into a bowl and mix it all up with a handheld whisk or wooden spoon until you get a smooth batter. Set aside.
- Clean the spring onions and cut them in half, we will be using the whole thing, white and green parts.
- I like to slice them in half lengthwise too, but that's completely up to you. It does depend on the thickness, I don't bother with the thin ones.
- Heat the oil in a medium frying pan on medium high heat.
- Add the spring onions to the hot oil in roughly, a rectangular shape, and leave them to cook for a minute.
- Pour the batter all over the spring onions, covering them completely. You can leave the batter in the shape of a rectangle, following the spring onion or cover the whole pan, as I do, bearing in mind, that the edges of the circle doesn't have any onions.
- After 2-3 minutes, the top of the pajeon will no longer be runny, the batter would have started to set. If the edges are browning too much, lower the heat to medium. Cook for another 2 minutes, then very carefully, using your widest spatula, flip the pajeon over to cook the other side. Use a second spatula to hold the top to help you flip, if you have trouble. The other alternative is to slide the pajeon onto a plate, place the frying pan onto the plate and flip the whole pancake back into the pan.
- Cook for a further 3 minutes or so, until you have a crispy pancake on the bottom side too. Lift to check.
- Slide onto a plate and slice in little squares and serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
- Mix everything up and serve.