We make new recipes all the time around here (it’s sort of an illness, really), and they’re usually very successful. However, quite often we never make a particular recipe a second time – it’s not that we didn’t like it, it just didn’t trigger our “must add this to the repertoire” buttons. There’s a special something to a recipe that you make once, then immediately want to try again with variations – it just inserts itself into your brain and tastebuds as if it always belonged there.
Korean pancakes (or pa jun, or some variation thereof) have turned out to be just such a recipe. I discovered these on David’s blog a few weeks ago, tried making one as soon as possible, and was so smitten I’ve made them at least once a week since then – for some reason always for breakfast (I don’t know why, it just feels right – especially with a pot of smoky black tea). They really remind us of traditional Chinese pan-fried scallion breads, but much much easier to make.
The first time I made this, I started to follow David’s recipe, but was stymied by the thickness of the batter and the fact that he spreads the beaten egg on top of the pancake instead of mixing it in. I ended up compromising between his method and Mark Bittman’s (from The Best Recipes in the World cookbook) – I do beat in the egg, and I like the batter to be liquid enough to actually pour around the vegetables. I’ve tried adding carrots, chives, scallions, spinach (not recommended – too wet), radishes, bean sprouts and zucchini, and hope to try it with shrimp, squid or kimchi sometime soon.
Korean Pancake (makes enough for two people)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 Tbsp oil
- 3/4 cup water
- bunch of scallions, chopped
- assortment of vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, herbs, or summer squash, grated
Combine the flour, egg, oil and water in a large measuring cup or batter bowl. Whisk the batter thoroughly and set aside to rest while you prep the vegetables.
Heat a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil in a nonstick pan (you want it pretty hot) and add the scallions. When they begin to sizzle, add the rest of the vegetables. Sometimes I add a splash of soy sauce at this point. Once everything is beginning to turn golden around the edges, pour half the batter over the top, making sure to cover the pan evenly. Let the pancake cook for a few minutes over medium-high heat. When the bottom has turned golden brown and the top is just beginning to set, flip the pancake and cook a minute more. Sometimes I drizzle a little extra oil around the sides, to get a little extra crisping, but it’s not necessary.
When the second side has golden spots on it, slide the whole thing out onto a plate. Cut into wedges or squares, and eat with chopsticks. I like a dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sambal oelek with this. When the first pancake has been inhaled, repeat from the top.
Start planning what you’ll put in next time you make it!