I’m not done with Korean food for this week, and today I’m trying this Pajeon recipe. What is Pajeon? And how to you pronounce it? Let me explain. First, it’s pronounced like ‘paa-jaan’. And yes, I had to look it up. As to what it is, it’s potato pancakes with other vegetables mixed in and a soy-based dipping sauce. Reading the recipe made me think of latkes, and I’ve had my share of those, along with plenty of sour cream to dip them in. Pajeon, however, sounds different enough that I want to try it. I’m all for adding veggies to dinner, so let’s find out if this recipe is a Pinterest success.
Pajeon is a savoury pancake filled with variety of meat and vegetables having spring onions as the prominent one. Batter is commonly made out of a mixture of eggs, wheat flour and rice flour.
I had a few items on hand, but I had to shop for a few items. My sesame oil went bad, and I was out of rice vinegar. I had the basics like vegetable oil, salt, pepper, flour, brown sugar, and soy sauce. I even had some gochugaru on hand. Mine was finely ground instead of coarse flakes, but I went with it.
The rest of what I needed was easy to find at my usual grocery store. I wasn’t sure of what kind of potatoes would be best, so I looked it up. Starchy russets were recommended a few times, so that’s what I bought.
One page did say the julienned potatoes would need to sit in a strainer so the moisture would drain away. I didn’t think mine were terribly wet, so I skipped that. It wasn’t in this recipe anyway.
I did most of the prep work before I even touched the stove. I know, that’s what you’re supposed to do, but I have a habit of prepping while I cook. Not this time.
The bulk of the prep work involved the vegetables, so that’s where I started. It didn’t say to, but I went ahead and peeled the potatoes before I julienned them. Then I got out my mandoline, slid in the julienne attachment, and got to work. I also used it on the carrots. Doing all this by hand would have driven me mad. The scallions did have to be cut up the old-fashioned way, but they were pretty easy to do.
Making the Dipping Sauce
After that, I put the sesame seeds into my toaster oven‘s tray and toasted them at the 1 1/2 setting. By that I mean I literally toasted. I left the breast slot open and pushed the arm down as if I was toasting a bagel. I use this trick because it shuts off automatically. Otherwise, I would forget the oven was on until I smelled something burning.
While the seeds toasted, I measured the other ingredients into a saucepan and started heating them. The sesame seeds finished when I adding the last ingredients, and I threw them in too. The brown sugar dissolved in a few minutes, and I set the pan aside with the lid on to keep the dipping sauce warm.
Making the Pajeon
The vegetables were all ready, but I had to make the batter. That was a simple mixture of flour, water, and egg with some salt and pepper for seasoning. Don’t worry if it sounds a little bland—the dipping sauce is the star of this show.
Once the veg was added to the batter, I noticed it was quite thick. I added an extra 1/2 cup of water to thin it out.
Now it was time to start cooking! I grabbed a 10-inch nonstick skillet and added 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. I let it heat thoroughly with the dial set at 5/10 before I added the batter.
While the oil was heating, I divided the batter evenly into four bowls and found my largest spatula. Each pancake had to cook for 4 minutes per side or 8 minutes each. I added another tablespoon of oil after the second pancake and didn’t have any trouble with them sticking. In fact, I probably could have used less oil, but I like to be cautious with new recipes.
Here is how my time was spent:
- 13 minutes to prep
- 46 minutes to cook
- 59 minutes total
My prep time was right in line with the 15 minutes listed on the recipe, but the cooking time was a different story.
The recipe listed an 8 minutes cook time which is correct if you can cook all 4 pancakes at the same time. Mine took up most of the pan, so there was no way I could make more than 1 at a time. Add the cooking time for the dipping sauce, and you see why my Pajeon took about an hour.