It all started with the Korean scallion and seafood pancake (haemul pajeon) that we had at a Korean restaurant in Shangri-La Plaza last year. I was intrigued by the unique texture of the pancake and when I chanced upon a bag of Korean pancake mix (buchimgae) in an Oriental food shop in Cartimer, I grabbed one.
I was going to make the seafood version but I never seem to have all the seafood varieties that I need all at once so I procrastinated. Then, at the prodding of a fellow foodie who assured me that pajeon (or p’ajon or pa jun) is still delicious even without the seafood, I finally made Korean scallion pancake yesterday. It was so good. Who would have thought that with such simple ingredients anything can taste so delicious? The best thing is that, after a little research, I know that when the bag of pancake mix is empty, I will still be able to make Korean pancakes at home because I have discovered the basic ingredients for the pancake mix.
- Add water to the pancake mix. How much? Start with 1/2 cup of water for a cup of pancake mix. Stir the water and pancake mix. The consistency should be similar to Western pancake batter. Rather thin and pourable but not watery. If the mixture is too lumpy and thick, add more water little by little until you get the correct consistency.
Start adding the vegetables. First, the carrot sticks. Then, the mung bean sprouts. Finally, the scallions. Of course, you can change the order entirely. Or use some other combination of vegetables. But since this is a scallion pancake, don’t leave out the scallions. When all the vegetables have been added to the batter, stir.
Set the stove to medium heat. Pour enough oil into a frying fan so that the bottom is completely covered with oil. If you’re not using a non-stick pan, heat the pan before adding the oil to prevent the pancake from sticking. Don’t ask how that happens, I only know that it works.
Pour in the batter. Using a spatula or the back of spoon, swirl the batter to spread it. Or, tilt the pan around to get the same effect.
When the underside of the pancake browns along the edges (or you can lift the pancake carefully to peek underneath), flip it using a wide turner or spatula. Or, if you can manage it (I can’t), toss the pancake into the air to flip it.
When both sides of the pancake are nicely browned, and crisp, lift and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the pancake into wedges. Why wedges and not rectangles or squares? To give everyone a share of the beautifully crisp edges.
There is a traditional dipping sauce for Korean scallion pancakes but I made my own: hoisin sauce, black vinegar, chili flakes and a little sesame seed oil.
This is a rather heavy pancake, much more dense than Western-style pancakes. Three slices and you’re full. While the outside is crisp, the inside is soft and moist and not cake-like at all. The rice flour in the pancake mix does give it a different texture.
Next time, I’ll make the seafood pancake by adding shucked clams, mussels, oysters, shrimps and sliced squid.
Cooking time (duration): 15 minutes
Number of servings (yield): Makes 1 8-inch pancake good for 3 to 4