Citizens, it is a veritable and adamantine fact that your Beloved – the Almighty TFD! – is very fond of complex recipes. However, while these may be close to my heart and soul, I am still very fond of simple recipes that deliver the flavors and textures my palate craves – and Korean pajeon absolutely fits the bill of fare! 🙂
Pajeon is a variety of jeon with scallion as its prominent ingredient, as pa (파) means scallion. It is a Korean dish made from a batter of eggs, wheat flour, rice flour, scallions, and often other ingredients depending on the variety. Beef, pork, kimchi, shellfish, and other seafood are mostly used.
Pajeon literally translates as green onion pancakes, but it is also commonly made with some seafood thrown in for extra protein. The official Korean name for this seafood and green onion pancakes is Haemul Pajeon (해물파전).
Pajeon is usually recognizable by the highly visible scallions. It is similar to a Chinese scallion pancake in appearance but is less dense in texture and not made from a dough.
It is made by placing jjokpa scallions parallely on a hot pan with vegetable oil, pan-frying them, then ladling onto them the batter made by mixing wheat flour, water, soybean paste, and sugar. The pancake is turned over when the bottom holds together and is golden-brown. It is usually served with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce and vinegar.
As noted on hansik.org:
Because green onions are rich in vitamins and minerals, and seafood has a high protein and calcium content, Pajeon is a dish that provides a balanced nutrition all by itself. The savory smell and crispy texture makes for a mouth-watering treat. Pajeon tastes even more delicious when shared with friends. The moment a sizzling Pajeon arrives at the table, everyone digs in with their chopsticks and finishes the plate in no time. The anxious wait for the next one is all part of the fun. Preparing Pajeon is also fun – pouring the mixture into the pan, pressing down with a spatula, waiting until the edges turn crispy and golden brown, and flipping it over with style.
Pajeon: Perfect on a Rainy Day
For some reason, people associate rain with Pajeon. Some say it’s because the sound of raindrops hitting the ground or a window sill reminds people of the sizzle of spattering oil. This theory may not be totally groundless. According to an experiment conducted by the Sound Engineering Research Lab of Soongsil University, the two sounds have almost identical vibrations and frequencies. There is another physiological explanation: rain increases the discomfort index and decreases blood sugar levels. In response to these changes, the human body naturally craves foods made from starchy wheat flour. A more layman’s view would be that, on a wet, cold day, people simply crave for food that will warm and comfort them.
Citizens, my version of seafood pajeon is quite deluxe, calling for scallops as my seafood of choice. ALWAYS be sure and go to a reputable fishmonger for these and ask for ‘dry pack scallops’ – these have not been soaked in chemicals and are the only choice whenever you use scallops in any dish. You want your scallops to be ivory-colored, not white – white means the chemical bath has been applied and should be avoided at all costs.
The dipping sauce for pajeon is choganjang, an essential condiment in Korean cuisine. (Cho means ‘vinegar’ Ganjang means ‘soy sauce’). Korean vinegars are sadly not well-known outside of the country, which is a tragic shame as they are some of the finest on the planet! A short but scholarly article on the history of Korean vinegars may be found here – I recommend reading it!
Most versions of choganjang use cheap vinegars and soy sauce – not this version!
It is made from a pre-made base of 5-year aged herbal vinegar and Korean soy sauce – it is exceptionally authentic and delicious! Hanega’s flagship product and also its best selling, the 5 years aged Gingko ‘Hyo’ vinegar gets its unique blend of flavors from ginkgo grown in the family’s orchard along with 14 other herbs, fruits, grains and roots. So flavorful and yet incredibly light, this vinegar (43% of Ganso sauce) brings the perfect balance between the salty soy sauce and the sweet honey. Buy it here.
Citizens, I have every confidence you will love this delicious dish! 🙂
Battle on – the Generalissimo