Whenever I dine at a Korean restaurant I never fail to order seafood pancake or haemul jeon, chunks of shrimp, squid and the odd bell pepper or green onion nestled in a tasty, savory cushion of a pancake. So when I received a copy of The Korean Table-From Barbecue to Bibimbap, 100 Easy-To-Prepare Recipes by Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels (Tuttle Publishing, 20008) I was pleasantly surprised that it was so simple to make.
Korean pancakes can be filled with seafood, kimchi or vegetables like zucchini or green onions. It’s so versatile and an easy and delicious one-dish meal Korean mothers and grandmothers can make in minutes. I just scrounged around in my fridge and came up with my own version based on Chung’s recipe.
Korean Pancakes (Jeon)
Adapted from The Korean Table-From Barbecue to Bibimbap, 100 Easy-To-Prepare Recipes by Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels (Tuttle Publishing, 2008)
In Chung’s recipe, rice flour adds texture for crispy edges while leaving the middle slightly chewy but even if you omit it, the pancakes will still be tasty. Aim for a consistency that’s between a crepe and American pancake batter. The batter should coat the back of a spoon and drip down in a thick stream. Ingredients like seafood or zucchini will introduce water into the batter so start with a little less water first before adding more to achieve desired consistency. I’ve never been good at flipping pancakes and omelets. If you’re like me, feel free to divide up the batter into smaller portions and make smaller pancakes.
Makes 2 large pancakes
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup rice flour
1 1/2 cups water
Half a small head of Chinese (napa) cabbage, cut into strips (about 2 to 3 cups)
1 small onion, cut into thin slices
1/4 pound bacon, cut into julienne strips
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup soy dipping sauce (recipe follows)
In a large mixing bowl, mix the all purpose and rice flours with water.
Blanch the cabbage in boiling water and squeeze dry in a cheesecloth. Fluff them up.
Add the cabbage, onion and bacon into the batter and mix well.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat for 30 seconds. Pour half the batter evenly into the skillet and cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and press down on the pancake with a spatula to flatten it.
Cook until the pancake is golden brown and the edges are crisp. Turn and press the pancake 2 to 3 more times until the pancake is cooked through.
Transfer the pancake to a serving platter and keep warm in a low oven.
Repeat with remaining batter.
To serve, cut each pancake into bite-sized pieces and serve with soy-green onion dipping sauce.
Soy and Green Onion Dipping Sauce
This sauce keeps for 3 days in the refrigerator, up to 1 week at most, if you leave the green onions out. Add them only when ready to serve. Serve extras with fresh greens or pan-fried tofu.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons Korean coarse pepper flakes
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle
2 green onions, chopped
Whisk everything together in a bowl.