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This recipe for Korean Pancakes (called Pajeon or Pa Jun) with Scallions and Dipping Sauce is wonderful for a snack, appetizer or light lunch. The tender scallions impart a fresh, mild bite without making the pancake too onion-y, and the slightly sweet and savory dipping sauce is the perfect complement to the crispy, fried pancake.
I'm definitely not an expert when it comes to Korean food. In the first place, I'm not from Korea, and to make things worse, I've never even been there. But one thing I have learned through my culinary adventures and travel experience is that almost every culture has some form of pancake, whether it's sweet or savory.
So today I'm sharing a recipe for wonderful savory and crispy Korean pancakes!
When I decided to do a week's worth of Korean-inspired recipes as a way of learning about and celebrating a culture that is new to me, I knew I wanted to see what kind of pancakes Korea had to offer.
Thanks to an awesome food blog called Korean Bapsang, which is written by a Korean-American mom, I found a great explanation about pajeon (sometimes spelled Pa Jun) with a recipe for a seafood scallion pancake that I used as my guide for this, much more basic, Korean pancake with scallions.
While you can add in any vegetables (grated carrots, zucchini, thinly sliced peppers, kimchi or potatoes) or protein (especially seafood, like shrimp, squid, oysters, and clams) that you like to your pajeon, at it's most basic level it is just a savory pancake, fried in a little bit of oil, with a bunch of scallions in it.
Is there a difference between scallions and green onions?
Nope! Scallions and green onions are actually the same thing! They are long, with a white stem end that does not bulge out (unlike a Spring Onion, which actually is different from a green onion or scallion).
Scallions are not as intense as regular onions and can be used raw or cooked. The whole thing (both white and green parts) can be eaten, and scallions are frequently used in many types of Asian cuisine, including Korean.
Scallions are a vegetable that are almost always on hand in my crisper because I use them all the time in recipes or just to throw into my eggs or tuna or quesadillas or whatever.
If your scallions are really thin like the ones in these pictures, you can throw them into the pancake whole, just chopping them once in the middle so they fit in the pan.
If you have thicker scallions on hand, you might want to slice them in half lengthwise.
What makes for a crispy Korean pancake recipe?
One of the best things about this savory pancake is the texture, which is achieved through a combination of factors. The first is actually frying the pancake in a little hot oil in a pan.
If you go to flip the pancake and all the oil has been absorbed, you may want to add a little more to the pan to cook the other side.
Another trick is to add some cornstarch to the pancake batter, which also helps achieve a crispiness that you just don't get with flour alone.
And a third technique that Hyosun at Korean Bapsang talks about is the importance of using ice cold water in the batter. That cold batter hitting the hot oil results in a crispier pancake.
Korean pancakes are a wonderful, savory snack and something super easy to whip up with pantry staples, as long as you have some scallions sitting around in your fridge. They are also a great, simple way to try exploring another culture that I know I for one am not nearly as familiar with as others!
More Korean Recipes You'll Enjoy
- Korean Beef Tacos (Bulgogi)
- Hotteok (Korean Sweet Pancakes)
- Oven Baked Korean BBQ Chicken Wings
- Slow Cooker Korean Beef Short Ribs (Kalbi)
Korean Pancakes with Scallions and Dipping Sauce (Pajeon or Pa Jun)
- 1 bunch scallions washed, with the ends trimmed and cut in half lengthwise if thick
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup ice water
- 1 egg lightly beaten, divided
- 4-6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon thinly sliced scallions
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Cut off ends of scallions and slice in half lengthwise, if the scallions are thick, and in the middle if they are too long to fit in the pan.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, garlic, and half of the egg with the ice water. If the batter seems too thick, add a little more water (about 1 teaspoon at a time) until the batter is runny, but still slightly thick.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat, then pour half of the pancake batter into the pan, swirling it into a thin pancake similar to how you would form a crepe. Immediately arrange half of the scallions on top of the batter in a single layer.
- Drizzle with half of the remaining beaten egg, then cook until the bottom is golden brown (about 3 to 4 minutes), then flip over and cook another 3 to 4 minutes, add more oil, if necessary, until the pancake is crisp and golden brown.
- Repeat with remaining batter and ingredients, then serve hot with dipping sauce.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl and whisk together.
Be sure to check out these other great international recipes from some of my fellow food bloggers who are also participating in the Food Blogger Olympics!