Korean Pancake with Shrimp and Scallop (Haemul pajeon 해물파전)


What you see above is my first, partly successful, attempt to prepare the famous Korean seafood pancake. I say “partly successful” because in spite of a burnt part and some other mistakes, I was literally spellbound by this extraordinary snack. First, I thought I would wait a second, better prepared and better looking batch before posting it, but finally I couldn’t wait to share with you my first experience with for what I consider as one of the most memorable dishes I have discovered in recent months or maybe even years.

Seafood pancake (haemul pajeon 해물파전)  is a very popular Korean snack or starter. Apparently it is served cut into small pieces and eaten with hands (I say “apparently” because I have never seen it in any restaurant here). It is composed of a batter made with two types of flour, several seafood species, chili peppers and spring onions. The original recipe (found in The Food and Cooking of Korea by Young Jin Song ) calls for five marine creatures and enoki mushrooms, but since I had leftover shrimp and scallops, I used only these and adapted the amounts to a smaller batch. As I have mentioned above, I had made some mistakes, but the preparation was really easy and quick (I was just a bit distracted) and the result impressive. When I prepared the pancake I didn’t imagine it even half as good as it proved, so the first bite was a huge surprise. I felt as if I were eating a very distant, more sophisticated cousin of a pizza, but it has also slightly reminded me of the Japanese okonomiyaki (see my last chicken version here). Both me and my husband were blown away by the result and the whole batch disappeared in no time at all. I will not exaggerate if I say I know I will prepare it dozens or rather hundreds of times in the near future and serve it for brunch, lunch, picnic or party snacks.

You will be surprised to notice that apart from the dipping sauce the recipe doesn’t require a single Korean (or in general Asian) ingredient. In fact, it can be prepared with very international ingredients, available worldwide. On the other hand the sauce, which brings an important Korean touch was a pure delight and I will never skip it.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2 as snacks):

10 medium shrimps shelled and deveined (cooked or raw)

4 scallops

3 spring onion stalks

1/2 medium hot green chili

1/2  medium hot red chili

1 clove garlic


1/2 cup plain flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

200 ml ice cold water

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 egg, beaten

Dipping sauce:

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 stalk of spring onion finely cut

1 clove garlic, crushed or grated

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Prepare the dipping sauce and put aside.

Prepare the pancake ingredients. Cut the scallops in two horizontally in order to obtain eight flat, round slices.

Slice the garlic finely.

Slice the chilies into very thin strips.

Slice the spring onion stalks into thin strips.

Prepare the batter combining all the ingredients.

Heat some oil in a big pan. (Keep the pan on medium heat, otherwise the pancake will be burnt like mine).

Pour 1/3 of the batter and make sure it spreads on the whole surface.

Scatter the shrimps, scallops, spring onions, chilies and the garlic over the batter and quickly pour on top the remaining batter.

Cover and fry on medium heat until the seafood is cooked.

Turn it over and fry for about two or three minutes just to brown this side a bit too.

Slice the pancake into small pieces (one or two bite-sized) and serve with the dipping sauce.


56 Replies to “Korean Pancake with Shrimp and Scallop (Haemul pajeon 해물파전)”

  1. You say partly successful? Harsh critic 😉
    This looks and sounds like the real deal no doubt my friend!
    Gorgeous plating and flavour!

    Choc Chip Uru

  2. Well these pancakes look totally this opposite than partly successful. They look mouthwatering and appetizing just like they should be!

  3. You can’t tell that this is burnt Sissi — and with those scallops peaking out it looks delicious. I’m intrigued by this recipe that has you spellbound. It looks similar to a fritatta and sounds equally straightforward to prepare. Is your dipping sauce a standard one that you prepare? I’d like to use this with dumplings next time I make them.

    1. Thank you so much, Barb. It might look a bit similar to frittata, but it contains only one egg. The dipping sauce you see in the ingredients section is the one given in my Korean cookery book. It’s delicious and very refreshing. Perfect for dumplings, too!

  4. Your Korean pancakes look amazing! The color of the food and how you plated the dish is beautiful. Looks successful to me!

  5. OMG Sissi! I just bought a package of Korean Pancake mix on Saturday night, the whole family was making suggestions of the ingredients we want to put into the pancake. Yesterday for brunch we went to a Korean restaurant and ordered the Seafood pancake (which is always delicious), and today your posting pop up with this recipe!

    I can not wait to make it and see how mine will turn out, thanks for sharing! Isn’t it funny we seem to be on the same wave length when it comes to food?

    1. Hi, Jeno. It’s so funny to learn you also had Korean pancake last weekend! I have never had it in any restaurant, but I imagine that made by a real Korean cook it must be excellent. I’m always happy to learn we share the same food preferences too!

  6. This looks absolutely delicious!!!! I’ve made these before, but they were never as beautiful as yours. I must try them with scallops!

    1. Thank you, Muskratbyte. You are very kind, but I’m sure yours looked great! Scallops were great, but I think I will often prepare this pancake with shrimp (I have it all the time in the freezer).

        1. Octopus sounds like an excellent idea. It has been on my “to buy and to do” list for such a long time! I will remember your suggestion. Thank you!

  7. This is very different and, going through the recipe, not what I expected. It sounds a lot easier to make than it looks! It looks beautiful and quite delicious!

    1. Thank you, MJ. It is very easy indeed and I also thought at first it would be difficult or long to prepare.

  8. Sissi, your Korean pancakes look gorgeous! (yes, that’s right, I literally gasped upon opening your page) – what do you mean ‘wait for a better looking batch’?!! Pas possible ma belle…

    I have recently fallen in love with Korean pancakes (got hooked this winter) and I’m so impressed with your rendition. It’s always a bit of a gamble for me when buying fresh chilis… can I trust the store ticket that says mild or medium, that is the question! ;-). Love the idea of the corn batter too… I don’t see any ‘partial’ success here Sissi – frankly, I don’t think it could look any better – I love the triangulation, vibrant colours and seafood poking out here and there. Sometimes when we get too close to things, we lose sight of its beauty. Gorgeous!! :).

    1. Kelly, I have read your message when I was waking up with a cup of my morning coffee and this way, thanks to you, I started my day with a broad smile on my face. Thank you for all the compliments!
      You know, it’s funny because since I have never had a professional Korean pancake, I have no idea if my pancake looked or tasted as it should 😉 It happens with many Japanese dishes I prepare too. I have realised that shops here usually import chilies from the same countries and same varieties year by year, so now I know which ones are mild, but I still remember the tests with big Thai chilies I was sure would be mild, but were as hot as bird’s-eye chilies!

  9. Pretty pizzas! 🙂 This is definitely the gourmet version!
    I fell in love with the Korean pancakes the first time I had it and gorged myself silly and later regretted it. The base is quite dense and heavy and chewy.
    I still have a pack of premix for this. Will definitely try out your version once it’s all gone. I’s got all excited when I found the pack of flour!

    1. Thank you, Ping. I have noticed some recipes use rice flour instead of the corn flour mentioned in my cookery book, so maybe the rice flour makes the batter harder in your mix? This one wasn’t tough or chewy (even though I have mixed up the instructions and instead of putting 1/3 and then 2/3 bater I divided it into halves, so the bottom was thicker than it should…).

  10. Oh yes! This just has to be copied!! The batter is so similar to Japanese ones [of course!] and I love the amount of chillies going in. Never mind eating this as a snack – I can see myself, quietly and out of sight, making a full ‘meal’ out of it!

    1. Thank you so much, Eha. It did remind me a bit of okonomiyaki in the sense that it is made with a pancake batter, in a pan and that everything can be added!

  11. Well girl these look like rock star to me, absolute Hit!!!
    Really delicious and after reading the recipe they look wonderful easy to make as well, need to try them soon.

  12. It looks like a huge success to be honest Sissi, and you say the pancake got burnt? Rubbish – it looks fantastic all over… a lovely colour and to be honest you don’t want something too anaemic-looking. Pasty and pale is usually an unappetising a colour when something is fried!

    Anyway – as a famous British chef says: “it’s not burnt, it’s caramelised” 😀

    Love the chunk of shrimp I can see peeking out from the front-most pancake!

    1. Great idea, Charles! I will remember next time to use the word “caramelised” instead! Thank you for the compliments.

  13. Sissi…I love korean pancake! And yours make me drool all over my keyboard and at the same time hunger :p I know why you cant wait to show us …I bet it tasted great too ! Thanks for sharing. I want to make this too !

  14. Oh Sissi! What a coincidence! I saw your email but didn’t check what you cooked for this post and made Korean pancake last night as a side dish. Mine was just veggies (so that kids will eat veggies and we had meat dish separately). Batter and sauce is similar but no corn flour. I should try adding that next time! I love how beautiful this pancake looks and glad you shared!!
    p.s. Also, just made your strawberry yogurt mousse with the kids after lunch. Looking forward to tasting it after dinner. =)

    1. Nami, I don’t know what to say! We drink the same, we eat the same… we should be able to have a super quick return flight every night to meet, chat “live” and share our meals 😉 I would love to taste your vegetable pancake.
      I am so happy you have actually made my yogurt mousse! I hope you will all enjoy it!
      Thank you for the compliments!

  15. What a lovely dish, Sissy. I too am intrigued by your remark that you are spellbound. Looks like I’ll have to try this recipe, without question.
    It’s about 30C here today, so this sound perfect for not heating up the house too much.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. I was really spellbound (and my husband too). The recipe was so simple, not much ingredients, hardly any seasoning… but the result was awesome.

      1. Hi Sissi, I made this for dinner last night. It was a big success. You were right, so delicious!
        When I told my husband what I was making for dinner, he was skeptical, but by the time he consumed 3/4 of the pancake, he said: “let’s have this again”. The sauce was incredible (I added about 1/2 tsp of freshly grated ginger). I do have a question, though about the preparation of the pancake batter; I just mixed all the ingredients with a whisk. I am not sure what the final texture should have been, but it was something like regular pancakes that were over mixed (the glutens of the white flour acted up and it was a little dense and not light and fluffy like north american pancakes are supposed to be). Can you clarify? I plan on making it again and I’d love to make sure I’m doing it right. Plus I hope to blog about it (more people need to know how delicious it is) so I want to make sure it looks like it should. thanks, Eva

        1. Thank you so much for the feedback! I’m so happy you have both enjoyed it. If you want to spice the sauce up you can replace the sesame oil with chili oil. Even in small amounts it changes everything. I have never had US pancakes, but they do look different in texture. When I made this pancake I mixed the batter with a spoon and the dough was chewy and dense and I suppose other recipes I saw on different Korean blogs afterwards, which include rice flour not cornstarch, must give even chewier and denser results. I have also read on several websites such descriptions as “dense” or “chewy”. Also Ping has recently written that these pancakes are dense. You can always fiddle with the recipe of course to lighten the dough… but I don’t know what to advise. Personally I didn’t mind it at all.

        2. Oh, I have just thought… Maybe you can add some baking powder? Or increase the amount of cornstarch vs wheat flour? (Just some ideas, I’m not sure about the result). Good luck and thanks again for telling me you have made it!

  16. Sissi, that looks fantastic! I don’t care if it is burnt, it has both my favorite ingredients scallop and prawns. I will finish them for you. LOL!

    1. Thank you, Quay Po. You are very kind. I must say even the burnt bits were finished 😉

  17. These pancake look phenomenal Sissi, I could never tell that they’re burnt (are you really sure about that? :)) Actually, after seeing your post here I got sooo inspired that I made them yesterday, and I’ve got complains that I didn’t make enough, that’s how good they were! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Gourmantine. I’m thrilled to learn you have made this pancake and so happy you have enjoyed it! Thank you for letting me know. It always makes me happy to know someone has prepared and enjoyed a recipe I had posted. (Do you see the brownish bottom? Even this part was quickly eaten though.).

  18. Dear Sissi,

    These look like elegant pizza slices except they are pan fried and I can imagine they are pretty tasty with those prawns and scallops. I would be tempted to add some fresh chillies or chilli flakes into the dipping sauce

    1. Thank you Chopinand. I didn’t put any chili in the sauce because there was lots of chili on the pancake.

  19. You had me at Korean Pancakes! Wow, this looks like I would roll my eyes and make a weird noise with each bite lol. Bookmarked your recipe. Thanks for sharing, have a lovely day! =]

  20. I’m surprised I never commented on this. Actually, I can’t remember getting the notice about the post but I’ve been overwhelmed with email notifications so it’s possible I just deleted a bunch of comment posts without reading.

    The seafood pancake sounds quite simple to assemble though I am curious what you mean by corn flour. Is it corn meal (yellow medium or finely ground corn as used in cornbread) or is it cornstarch (white powdery flour used as a thickener in chinese cooking)? I’m guessing the latter based on the amount … which I would convert into 4 teaspoons.

    You commented that you planned on making it for brunches. Is it good hot as well as room temperature?

    1. Thank you for letting me know I have made a mistake. I was sure it meant corn starch, but since you say it can mean cornmeal too, I will update the post at once. I meant “corn starch” of course. I had it only hot (it has disappeared very quickly), so I have no idea if it’s good colder, but I suppose it depends on the seafood you use.

    2. Oh, and I have changed grams into tablespoons. I remember I have used two tablespoons cornstarch.

      1. If you wiki ‘cornflour’ you get this:

        Cornflour may be:
        Cornmeal, flour ground from dried corn
        Cornstarch (‘cornflour’ in the UK), the white, powdered

        Since this blog is read internationally, I think it helps to make it as clear as possible.

        1. Thank you. I must have read corn flour often on British blogs or in British books, but you are right, “cornstarch” is more international.

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