Pajeon — the simplest savoury pancake that delivers big on flavour
Definitely make more than you think you need of these Korean scallion pancakes
Scallions and green onions are consumed with real vigor in Korean cuisine, and are often the main attraction in a dish. Pajeon translates to scallion pancake; “pa” is scallion and “jeon” the pancake; it’s quite literally the simplest savoury pancake, yet it delivers big on flavour.
You will finish off the lightly charred savoury pancakes by pulling scallion strands and dipping them into the tangy dipping sauce — you can’t escape it! Make more pajeon, not less, as this recipe easily doubles and reheats beautifully in a skillet over medium heat.
While these Korean scallion pancakes are best served hot, light and crispy, they’re also divine at room temperature. Serve them as an appetizer or go full Korean with steamed rice, soup and a table filled with banchan (small side dishes).
Tip: For shrimp and scallion pancakes, you can use 8 to 10 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved lengthwise, adding 2 halves per pancake.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup cold, sparkling carbonated water or soda water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bunches scallions, trimmed, thick white parts halved and cut in 3-inch pieces
- 4 Chinese chives or 8 chives, cut in 1-inch pieces (optional)
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil (or more for frying)
- Thinly sliced scallions, for sprinkling
- Toasted sesame seeds, for sprinkling
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 ½ tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp water
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
First, make the batter. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. In a separate, large bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, sparkling water, soy sauce and garlic. Lightly whisk the flour mixture in just until combined (the batter should be lumpy, not smooth). Refrigerate the batter for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Stir the chives into batter (if using). Heat a large cast iron skillet or non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and carefully place 8 pieces of the scallions in a single row, like a ladder (be careful, there may be oil splatter). Spoon 2 tablespoons of the batter over the scallions, filling in the gaps between. Then layer with 8 more pieces of scallions (adding a drizzle more batter if needed to adhere). You may have enough room to make two at a time.
Lightly press and cook until browned and crisp on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until browned on both sides, slightly flattening with the spatula and flipping a few times.
Transfer the cooked pajeon to a wire cooling rack placed over a baking tray. Repeat with remaining oil, batter and scallions.
Yield: Makes about 8 pancakes
Soo Kim is a Toronto-based professional cook and baker, writer, stylist and recovering food editor. Hungry for more? Follow her delicious stories on Instagram @soocookie.