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Seafood Pancakes(해물파전), the spring onions and the three amigos

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March 30, 2010

Seafood Pancakes(해물파전), the spring onions and the three amigos


 My friend Lily called me the other day and asked if I can post the recipe for Korean seafood pancakes. Her 17 year old son, who is fighting with a cancer, is craving for this pancakes and she would like to know how to make it. I am thrilled to introduce this dish for anyone who loves seafood and spring onions. Lily, this one is especially for you and Alex!

This is traditional Korean afternoon snacks on the rainy days. Why rainy days? I don't know exactly why but if you ask any Koreans what dish they are craving most on those rainy days, I promise you that 9 out of 10 will answer for this dish. Who could resist greasy, yummy, fried fritters? Its glorious Korean name is "Haemul Pajeon" (해물 파전,  seafood pancakes or fritters). It basically is a pancake/fritter with any type of shellfish and spring onion batter fried in oil. If you are seafood lover this dish will throw you up in the heaven. I promise!

You will need bunch of spring onions or widely known as green onions. They tastes best in the spring. Look for the ones with slightly skinny body with firmness.

Now let's talk about the photo on the right. Wait a minute! Are they giant grass? NO! Are they chives? Kind of! They are called Boochoo (부추). You can find this easily in Hong Kong, where I live. They are closed to the leek family. I know both leek and chives has same grandmother, the Onion! I should say these Boochoo are leek's nephews?
Unlike Chives they have flat leaves and they look like giant grass. You might have hard time finding these guys in your local groceries in the U.S but if you go to Asian or Korean market you might be able to find them. If you still can't find them or don't bother to look for them just double up the amount of spring onions or replace with chives.

Clean them both well by removing any wilted or bruised parts and wash them in the water. Set a side.

Let me introduce the three amigos for today's job. The shrimps, the mussels, and the squids!  You can use other kind of shellfish if you like or use only one kind of them. Oysters or scallops are good choice as well. If you find mixed frozen seafood use them by all means. But please, don't get the ones that are precooked.

So these are the main ingredients you will need for this dish.

 Remove meat from the shell and clean them well with water.

I usually buy squids that are cleaned already so I don't have to deal with gunk. Yikes!
Use some coarse salt and rub hard on these 8 legged creatures to get rid of some of the tough skin. I am using the frozen shrimp this time. Just thaw them well.
Let these three amigos set aside to get to know each other better. 
Hello? Hola? Ni hao ma?

First, make dipping sauce by combining soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, Korean chili flakes(optional), sesame seeds, and green onions. Set a side. The reason you make dipping sauce first is that you gotta eat the pancakes immediately after you fry them.
No time to waste to make sauce at the end!

Cut these sea creatures into big chunks.
Sorry for dicing you guys, my dear three amigos!

 Boil 2 cups of water with some rice wine in a small pot. Add each seafood at a time. Blanch them for 3 seconds. You don't need to cook them all the way. The reason that you blanch them before you add to the pancakes is to prevent the pancakes from getting wet and soggy in the middle.
Also you need to reserve the juice from them to make flavorful batter later on.

After you blanch each seafood, reserve 1 cup of broth from the pot.
Save the rest just in case.

Slice spring onions into 2" sticks. The same goes to Boochoo.

 Slice chili and set a side in a small bowl.

 Now let's make batter by using Korean pancake mix and some glutinous rice flour. If you can't find the pancake mix, don't you worry! I am such a nice person and I won't let you down. Look for the recipe below to make your own mix. If you can't find the rice flour either, Hmmmm... I will still be nice to you.  Just Omit it and add more pancake mix to the batter. Anyway the consistency of this batter is very important. I say it is almost like slightly thin pancake batter (the western breakfast).

Add the onions into the batter and mix well with spoon. As you see, the batter works as binding for the onions. You will have some batter floating on the bottom and it is okay. Just mix them well each time you scoop up to the pan.
If your onions are swimming in the batter, it is not a good sign.
Add more onions. or remove some batter.

 Beat 2 eggs lightly. Mine got accidentally over beaten. Minus 2 points here! Set a side.

Now heat some oil, about 2tsp, in a non stick pan over medium heat until it gets nice and hot.

Place 1/3 of batter mixture on the pan spread evenly as thin as possible with spoon. If there is a any major gap in the middle among the onions, fill with a little bit of extra batter. It should be around 9" in diameter or any size you like.
The recipe will make 3 of 9" pancakes.
Traditionally the Korean pancakes comes BIG in size!

 Scatter the three amigos around the pancake like the lost 12 tribes of Israel. Dot with some red chili.

Pour 1/3 of beaten eggs around the toppings. Let this pancake fry up for about 2-3 minutes until the batter and the egg on the top looks almost cooked.
And FLIP it! Good luck with that!

See?  It created nice golden crisp edge on the back side. Press the top of the back side with spatula to help sear the other side. Let this puppy to fry for 2 more minutes.
You might need to drizzle a little more oil around if your pan seems dry.

Here comes the fun part. In order to make your life easier to transport the pancake to the plate, Place your serving plate over the pancake directly facing the pancakes.
Flip the pan the other way.

Voila! Isn't that gorgeous! The pancake is ready to serve! Make sure your people standby next to you to eat this right away. Because this pancake tastes 100% better when it is hot.
So Lily, have Alex near you so he can eat this immediately with the dipping sauce.

Some might wonder how you eat this. One word. DEVOUR! If you are a chopstick master like myself you just rip off this pancake with chopstick. It comes off easily. If you must use a fork, then cut it with knife into desired size.
Don't forget the dipping sauce!

I want that piece right now as I am sitting in front of the computer.
I am drooling like a bulldog.

So the three amigos got to know each other very well this time and that is the end of the story!

  Sorry, folks! I had to take a couple of bites during the photo shoot. I could not resist.  
Sorry, Easter bunny! this is not for you.

 Oops! Where did the pancake go? It only took twinkle moment for me to finish up.
It was that good.

Seafood Pancakes
(haemul Pajeon, 해물파전)
makes 3 of 9" pancakes

10-12 heads of Spring onion cut into 2" long sticks
Boochoo (Asian chives), same volume as spring onion, cut into 2" long sticks
1/2C each, three choices of shell fish (shrimps, mussels, squids, oysters, scallops) cleaned and diced
1-2 red chili sliced
2C water
2T rice wine
1C Korean pancake mix
1/4C glutinous rice flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
Some oil for frying. I use grape seed oil.

Dipping sauce:
3T soy sauce
2T white vinegar
1/2t sugar
1t Korean chili flakes (optional)
1t sesame seeds 
some chopped green onion

Korean pancake mix (homemade):
1C all purpose flour 
1/2t salt
1/2t sugar
1/4t pepper
1/2t garlic powder 

Make dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients. Set a side.

Add rice wine in 2C water in a small pot and bring to boil. Blanch the seafood in small portion at a time for 3 seconds. Set a side. Reserve 1cup of the seafood broth from the pot.

Make the batter by combining mix, rice flour, and the reserved broth. The consistency should be similar to thin breakfast pancake batter. Add a little more broth if needed. 
Add the onions and mix well. 

Heat a large non stick pan with 2tsp of oil on a medium heat until nice and hot.
Scoop up 1/3 of batter mixture on the pan, spreading it around to make even thin layer about 9" in diameter.
Scatter 1/3 of the seafood on top of the pancake and dot with a few red chili.
Pour 1/3 of beaten egg around the topping and let the pancake fry for 2-3 minutes.

Flip the pancake and press the back side of pancake with large spatula. This helps sear the other side of pancake. Drizzle more oil if needed.
Place the serving plate facing to the pancake and flip the pan upside down. You will have a gorgeous pancake ready to eat right away.

Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

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At April 2, 2010 at 9:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have made this before, a little different than yours, and I loved it! I will try your recipe, since it looks even more delicious! I love your blog!

At April 2, 2010 at 10:02 AM , Blogger beyondkimchee said...

Hi, Thanks for visiting my blog. Please, let me know how it was when you make the pancake.

At April 19, 2010 at 4:10 PM , Anonymous Julia said...

I've never seen eggs separately added to the top of pajun, but your photos of this batch look scrumptious. So pretty!

At October 9, 2010 at 6:12 PM , Blogger Eva! said...

Oh jeez! That looks so delicious! One of my favorite Japanese dishes is okonomiyake, and while this is different, it looks so good I could just eat my computer looking at it!

And I just love your blog. Your writing is so charming and the recipes and photos are fantastic. You're on my bookmarks now!

At March 4, 2011 at 5:06 PM , Anonymous KoreanCookingChallenged said...

I have tried cooking this a few times now, and I seem to be having a problem cooking them. They turn out gummy (uncooked?), even though with each try, I keep cook them longer and longer (20+min). Help!?!?

At March 4, 2011 at 5:56 PM , Anonymous beyondkimchee said...


It can be many reasons.
Your batter might be too thin if the pancakes gets gummy. It can happen if
your onions and chives are not well drained from washing. The water that was
hold between the layers can thin the batter a lot. So if that is the case
make sure you dry the chives and green onions well after washing. Salad
spinner can help greatly. The batter consistency should be somewhat like
thin pancake batter. Also too much batter can result in gummy texture as
well. The batter is for binding the onions together, therefore it shouldn't
be used too much. Just enough to hold everything together.

The trick to get crispy on the edges of pancake is that you start with well
heated pan over medium or medium-low heat (not too hot though, just enough
to sizzle a bit). Add oil about 1 Tbsp, swirl around the pan, and add the
batter with chives and green onions in it.
Quickly yet gently spread the batter around the pan to get thin layer and
make sure the onions are spread evenly. Spread the seafood. Do not touch.
Let it continue to sizzle for 3 minutes or so over the medium low heat.
Drizzle the lightly beaten egg on top and and continue to cook for 1 more
minute. You will see the edges (the batter part) are turning a little crisp
and golden.
20+ minutes are awfully too long.
Flip the pancake carefully and press the top with spatula to even out.
Pressing help the other side to get more crusty. You will hear the sizzling
sound. Add more oil around the edges of pancake if your pan seems too dry.

Also if you make your pancake to thick, the batter trapped between the
layers of onions might not get cooked completely resulting gummy, uncooked
texture. Make sure you spread into thin cake, as thin as you can (about

Hope all these tips will help you succeed in making the pancake. It can be
challenging but once you get the neck of it, you can make any types of
Korean pancakes.

Good luck!


At April 28, 2011 at 4:30 PM , Anonymous Angelica said...

Just made this last night....the girls and I loved it...and the dipping sauce! I need to make my batter a little thinner next time but they are easy and fun to make.


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