Pajeon Recipe: Crispy Korean Seafood Scallion Pancake
Master the technique of creating perfect Pajeon with this detailed, step-by-step guide. This authentic Korean scallion pancake recipe, known as haemul pajeon, complete with seafood, offers expert tips for that perfect, crispy texture. Explore the savory flavors of Korean cuisine from your own kitchen!
Pajeon is undoubtedly among the top favorites in Korean restaurant menus. The combination of its savory crunch and rich taste is just irresistible.
But here’s the thing: you don’t need to head to a restaurant to relish this Korean delight. With a handful of scallions and a simple homemade batter, this delicacy can be recreated right in your home kitchen. The best part? It’s super crispy!
What Exactly is Pajeon?
Often referred to as the Korean green onion pancake, or scallion pancake, Pajeon is a cherished savory dish crafted using scallions nestled in a wheat batter, frequently adorned with seafood. Considered a staple in the Korean appetizer realm, this pancake is traditionally paired with a tangy soy-vinegar dipping sauce.
But there’s more to Pajeon than just its taste. It’s deeply rooted in Korean culture, emerging as the go-to comfort food during rainy days. For Koreans, it’s not just food; it’s an emblem of warmth, hospitality, and camaraderie.
It steals the spotlight during gatherings and pairs flawlessly with a glass of Korean rice wine, makgeolli. This combo captures the essence of the vibrant Korean food culture.
Did you know? On rainy days in Korea, many recount a folklore about a mischievous a mischievous frog. As children, we’d relish our Pajeon while listening to this tale, with the pancake’s sizzle reminding us of raindrops. So, for many, the sound of rain, a warm Pajeon, and the story of the frog are intertwined in nostalgia.
Korean Pancakes: Exploring the Varieties
There’s a plethora of savory pancakes in the Korean culinary world:
- Haemul pajeon: The most celebrated Korean pancake boasting a mix of fresh seafood like squid, shrimp, and oysters, harmonized with scallions. Originating from Dongnae, Busan, it’s also famed as Dongnae Pajeon.
- Kimchi pajeon: Featuring the fiery kick of chopped kimchi combined with scallions.
- For another spicy treat, check out my kimchi pancake recipe.
- Buchu pajeon: A unique blend using garlic chives, known as buchu, mingled with scallions.
- Hobak pajeon: This variety includes zucchini, also known as hobak, in the batter along with scallions.
- Try my Korean pumpkin pancake recipe which has a similar approach.
Creating Crispy Pajeon: Expert Tips
The heart of the Korean pancake lies in its batter. While many resort to ready-made Korean pancake mix (buchimgaru, 부침가루), it can sometimes lead to a flavor imbalance. If you’re aiming for an ideal sodium level, especially when serving with dipping sauce, go homemade!
With just four staples – plain flour, cornstarch, fish sauce, and carbonated water – you can churn out a Pajeon that’s the right blend of crispy and flavorful.
Why Carbonated Water?
Carbonated water lends the batter a light, crispy touch. The carbon dioxide in it forms minuscule bubbles in the batter, offering an airy texture while ensuring an even coating on the food.
Oil Is Essential
A generous amount of oil is the secret to that desired crispy texture. While it’s not deep-frying, ensure the pan has ample oil. As you pour the batter, ensure the edges get their share of oil too.
Fresh Seafood For Authenticity
While you can opt for frozen seafood, nothing beats the taste of fresh ingredients. However, if seafood isn’t your thing, can always omit it. I recommend enjoying it with a glass of makgeolli, Korean rice wine, especially on a rainy day. This combination is popular in Korea, and it’s definitely worth trying.
The cooking temperature for Korean pancake can vary based on the type of heat source and pan used. It’s important to adjust the heat level accordingly to avoid burning or having a soggy pancake due to excessive oil absorption. Finding the right balance of heat and timing is crucial for a perfect, crispy Korean pancake.
Make Dipping Sauce First
For the best experience, it’s recommended to serve pajeon immediately after frying. To avoid any delay, it’s a good idea to prepare the dipping sauce beforehand so that it’s ready to go when the pancake is done cooking.
Essential Ingredients for the Authentic Taste
- Scallion: Choose slimmer scallions for better results.
- Seafood mix (fresh or frozen): A combination of squid, shrimp, mussels, oysters, and clams work well together. Omit seafood for plain pajeon.
- Egg: Required for binding the seafood to the scallions.
- Fresh red chili: Add for extra spice.
- Oil: Use a generous amount for a crispy texture.
For Homemade batter:
- All-purpose flour: The base ingredient for the batter.
- Cornstarch: Helps to create a light and crispy texture.
- Fish sauce: Adds a layer of flavor and brings out the umami taste in the batter.
- Carbonated water (or sparkling water): Creates tiny bubbles in the batter for a light and airy texture.
- Soy sauce: Provides a savory and salty flavor.
- Rice wine vinegar or white vinegar: Adds acidity and tanginess to the sauce.
- Water: Helps to balance out the flavors.
- Onion: Adds sweetness and depth to the sauce.
- Fresh red chili (optional): Adds extra heat and flavor to the sauce.
How to make Pajeon: Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1. Make dipping sauce and trim scallions
Prepare the dipping sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
Trim the scallions to fit nicely in your skillet and set them aside. I recommend using a 10-11 inch heavy skillet for the best result.
Step 2. Prepare batter
In a rectangular pan, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and fish sauce. Pour in the carbonated water and mix until well combined. Lightly coat half of the scallions with the batter.
Step 3. Lay the battered scallions
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place the battered scallions evenly on the hot skillet without overlapping.
Spoon a small amount of batter to fill any gaps between the scallions. Avoid making the pancake too thick. Let it cook for 1 minute.
Step 4. Arrange seafood (if using)
Sprinkle half of the seafood mix evenly over the scallion pancake. Drizzle a beaten egg over the seafood and dot with fresh red chili evenly.
Let the pancake sear on the bottom until it becomes golden brown and crispy when you lift up the edge with a spatula.
Step 5. Flip to remove
Using a large spatula (or two if needed), carefully turn the pancake to the other side. Watch out for any oil splashes. Drizzle more oil around the edges of the pancake. Adjust the heat level if the pajeon seems to darken too fast.
To remove the pancake from the skillet, you can either use a large dish or a spatula.
- For the first method, place the top side of a dish facing toward the pancake in the skillet, then turn the skillet over to reveal the right side of the pancake. Slide the pancake onto a cutting board and cut it into serving-size pieces.
- For the second method, remove the pancake carefully with a spatula and place it directly on a cutting board. Slice it into desired sizes.
For the best experience, it’s recommended to serve the pajeon immediately after frying, so you can enjoy the irresistible combination of savory flavor and crispy texture with every bite.
Be sure to serve it alongside the dipping sauce to enhance the overall taste.
Try Other Korean Appetizer Recipes
Here are 5 delicious varieties of crispy, flavorful delights:
- Crispy Spinach Pancake
- Korean Potato Pancake
- Korean Pumpkin Pancake
- Curry Kimchi Pancake
Pajeon Recipe: Crispy Korean Seafood Scallion Pancake
- 2 bunches scallions
- 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup (240 ml) carbonated water, chilled
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 5 tbsp oil, divided, and use more as needed
- 1 1/2 cup (360 ml) mixed seafood (shrimp, squid, and mussel), fresh or frozen (thaw first if frozen)
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 2 fresh red chili, sliced, optional
- 10-inch carbon steel pan or cast iron skillet
Make dipping sauce
- To make dipping sauce, prepare the dipping sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
To make Pajeon
- Trim the scallions to fit nicely in your skillet and set them aside. I recommend using a 10-11 inch heavy skillet for the best result.
- In a rectangular pan, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and fish sauce. Pour in the carbonated water and mix until well combined.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat half of the scallions with the batter and place them evenly on the hot skillet without overlapping. Spoon a small amount of batter to fill any gaps between the scallions. Avoid making the pancake too thick. Let it cook for 1 minute.
- Sprinkle half of the seafood mix evenly over the scallion pancake. Drizzle a half of beaten egg over the seafood and dot with some fresh red chili evenly. Let the pancake sear on the bottom until it becomes golden brown and crispy when you lift up the edge with a spatula.
- Using a large spatula (or two if needed), carefully turn the pancake to the other side. Watch out for any oil splashes. Drizzle more oil around the edges of the pancake. Adjust the heat level if the pajeon seems to darken too fast.
- Remove the pancake from the skillet, you can either use a large dish or a spatula. Repeat the process to make the next batch of pajeon.
- Serve the pajeon immediately after frying. Cut it into serving-size pieces and serve it alongside the dipping sauce.