Okonomiyaki, the Japanese pizza—a pancake served “as you like it” with your favorite toppings—is delicious; I’m inspired to try as many kinds as I can. Koreans enjoy a similar pancake dish called jeon; the most basic version is made with only scallions and is called pajeon, or p’ajon, pajon, pa jun, pageon, or (oddly) buchimgae or buchujeon. The last two may refer to pancakes which use garlic chives (or Chinese chives) rather than green onions; I don’t know. buchimgalu=packaged mix?
At the Korean store on the corner, I often see large bunches of slender greens which have flatter leaves than chives. And I have them growing in my garden. They produce balls of small pretty white flowers at the end of summer which become neat clusters of seed pods. The plants self sow easily, though they are not invasive. I see birds eating the ground-pepper sized black seeds in the winter. The chives are young and tender now, they’ll have time to recover to produce seeds by summer’s end, and so this is a great time to try pajeon.
Usually I do a lot of research before preparing a recipe found online, but this time I was too eager to start. The pancakes tasted good, but there was no way all of the mixture was going to fit into my 12-inch skillet! That should have been clue #1. The first one did not hold together. I tried to save the other by adding an egg to the remaining batter, and another egg on top, as the pancake cooked. J. liked it, but it was of course very egg-y and not at all what I had in mind.
Belated research reveals that many things can be added to these pancakes: prawns, scallops, oysters, clams, mussels, chicken, corn, bits of seaweed, tofu, mushroom slices (especially oyster mushrooms), kimchi, asparagus slices, bell peppers or shredded carrots for color, or other cooked or shredded vegetables that you have on hand. Some people put an over-easy egg on top.
This is the recipe I tried:
Vegetable Pancake with Garlic Chives (buchujeon)
4 appetizers, light meal for 2
Combine flour, salt, and water. Add the vegetables and stir well.
Heat oil in a large pan, pour the batter in (thin layer), top with seafood. Press the seafood down into the batter. Lower heat to medium. When the pancake is 80% cooked pour the beaten egg into the center. Flip pancake. Finish cooking, slice and serve with dipping sauce.
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ Tablespoon rice vinegar