Photos by ChiHon Kim
Photos by ChiHon Kim

Haemul-pajeon: Let’s cook up some Korean seafood pancakes

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

When the weather is overcast and rainy, what are your go-to comfort foods?

For many Koreans, Haemul-pajeon is probably the first on the list. Haemul-pajeon is a popular Korean pancake made with scallions and mix of fresh seafood.

Some speculate the reason why a seafood pancake would be a popular as rainy day treat is because the falling raindrops sound like frying Haemul-pajeon. I, too, believe this. However, any day regardless of the weather is a great day for a delicious Haemul-pajeon. And don’t forget to pair it with some Makgeolli rice wine!

'Pa' means scallion, and 'jeon' is often translated as a pancake made of vegetables, or meat coated with a flour and egg batter. There are many variations, but the recipe below is one of the more popular versions of this tasty dish.

- PREP TIME: 20 minutes 
- COOK TIME: 30 minutes
- TOTAL TIME: 50 minutes 
- DIFFICULTY: Easy
- SERVINGS: 2

INGREDIENTS

Main

  • 1 or 2 bunches of scallions (or spring onion, small spring onion, chives)
  • 2C water
  • 1 cup Korean pancake mix (buchimgaru) or all-purposes flour 
  • 1/2 t salt, 1/2teaspoon sugar
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced (or garlic powder)
  • 1 cup of mixed seafood (squid or small octopus, clams or mussel, oysters, shrimps, etc), cut into bite sizes
  • 1 cup of cold water
  • 1 whole eggs
  • Some cooking oil
  • Some carrot, onion, green pumpkin thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1-2 red and green chili sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (optional)

 

Dipping sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1tablespoon Korean chili flakes (optional)
  • 1tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
  • some chopped green onion

 

INSTRUCTIONS

First, make the dipping sauce by mixing soy sauce and other ingredients in a bowl then set aside. You want eat your pancake fresh off the stove, so have your sauce ready so you can dig right in.

Prepare the seafood, scallions, and optional ingredients. Drain the excess water from the seafood well. Wet ingredients make it hard for them to stick to pancake batter. (Tip: I microwave the seafood I’m going to use for about one minute to remove the excess moisture). Cut scallions smaller than the size of your pan to get better control when flipping it.

In a mixing bowl, combine the mix powder and ice-cold water in a 1-to-1 ratio. If you like a crispy texture, make the batter relatively thin. Mix the batter until there are no lumps and add in the salt, garlic power and sugar. You can also add some sweet rice flour (chapssal garu) or frying powder (twigim garu), which will give the pancake a crispy coating.

Coat the pan with a generous amount of cooking oil. Keep the frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, put one ladle of batter into the pan and spread it evenly into a thin, round shape.

Scatter the scallions in a single layer on top of the batter, gently pressing them down into the batter with the spatula a couple of times to sizzle and make crispy. Add the rest of the seafood and veggies you prepared.

Pour some of your reserve batter over the seafood and scallions. As the batter cooks and the ingredients will fuse into the batter securing the pancake flip you’ll do in the next step. In this step you can also substitute a beaten egg instead of the batter or add more egg to your batter if you’re running low. Cook until the bottom is golden brown.

Once the bottom is golden brown, turn it over, adding more oil and pressing down with the spatula. When both sides are cooked, remove from the heat and flip onto a plate or cutting board. Slice the pancake into squares or triangles and serve with the dipping sauce you made earlier.

Give it a try and bon appetite or 잘 먹겠습니다!
(Pronounced: jal meok-ke-sseum-nida)!

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