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)
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
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.