My attempt at making Haemul Pajeon 해물파전!
I love this Korean pancake made with green onions (pa) and seafood (haemul) and often order it in Korean restaurants. It always appears on the table perfectly golden and crispy but recreating this at home proved to be a bit tricky….
There are lots of amazing Korean food bloggers that I look at for recipes but unfortunately for this dish I found quite a bit of variations in the recipe/method, especially in which flour is used for the batter and how the ingredients are mixed/the order in which they are used.
Maangchi, often my first go-to-source, has a pajeon recipe with the shortest ingredients list. Seafood only gets mentioned halfway as an optional addition and her batter is quite plain although she does use soybean paste (and sugar) for flavouring. There is no addition of egg and she uses plain flour whilst others seem to recommend cake flour, rice flour or a ready made Korean pancake mix.
If I understand Hyosun from Korean Bapsang correctly, Korean pancake mix can be easily made by mixing flour with rice flour/corn starch and some flavouring like garlic and ginger. Nami from JustoneCookbook uses cake flour which seems to be a mix of flour with corn starch . The ladies from CrazyKoreancooking use the ready mix or plain flour and JinJoo from Kimchimari uses a mix from plain flour with different rice flours. She also uses anchovy stock to flavour the batter and is the only one who adds seasoned minced beef to this dish (and minari).
The reason for all these variations in flour seems to be to ensure a crispy result. Apparently the gluten in normal flour can give a doughy result which makes sense I guess thinking of French crepes and English pancakes.
Aside from the flour, the other big difference is how the ingredients are mixed/ in which order they are being used.
After mixing the batter, some recipes add the seafood to the batter itself whilst other add it later. Some mix the egg into the batter as well, others add it almost to the end. The green onions go into the pan first, or on top of the batter. (It is even mentioned that you could also mix all the ingredients together instead of layering it separately).
The main ingredients all seem to be the same though, a batter (preferable to contain some rice/cornstarch), green onions, seafood, water, oil and an egg. Optional flavourings are chilies, ginger, garlic and salt.
It’s worth exploring all these different recipes and see what works out best, but as I only had limited time (and ingredients), I went ahead and used Maangchi’s and Kimchimari’s recipe as my main inspiration.
I don’t have any precise quantities but this is what I used:
- The batter: I mixed equal amounts of glutenfree flour with water. To this I added a tablespoon of cornstarch plus an egg and mixed well until a smooth and fairly thin batter. I also added a pinch of dried ginger, garlic and salt to it. (The amount of batter shown in the photo is way too much, I only used about a third of it).
- Green onions: cleaned and cut to size to fit into a frying pan. I also halved them lengthwise.
- Seafood: I use a mix of (defrosted frozen) seafood which I chopped up roughly as I prefer smaller pieces in my pancake.
- The dish on the left has the dipping sauce, prepare this before you start frying your pancake as you want to eat the pancake as soon as possible whilst still hot & crispy! I make mine from equal quantities soy sauce, vinegar and water, a little bit of sugar and some finely chopped green onion. I also like to add a drop of sesame oil.
How did I make it?
- Heat up some vegetable oil in a frying pan (medium to high heat) and add the green onions. Press down so that it has maximum contact with the bottom of the pan
- Add the seafood on top of the onions, dividing it evenly
- Poor the batter over this, make sure any holes are filled but don’t cover the onions/seafood completely. A thick batter will take longer to cook, making it tough and doughy.
- Continue to fry, lower heat if needed, until the batter seems almost cooked on top. Turn over carefully and fry the other side for a further 2-3 minutes until fully cooked.
- Serve with dipping sauce!
Mine was delicious but not crispy enough so I guess I will have to experiment a bit more and make this again 😛
Have you made this at home? Any tips on how to get it extra crispy? Looking forward to hear from you in the comments 🙂