Archived entries for pancakes

Pancakes for Dinner: Vegetarian Pa Jeon

February 24th was International Pancake Day. And I made these tasty Korean pancakes for dinner. But it was totally a coincidence.

When I started looking at recipes for Pa Jeon, I was not even aware of the existence of Pancake Day, which apparently arose from an old tradition of using up eggs and fat before Lent begins. But here I am with a belly full of pancakes. And you should make these for dinner, pancake day or no.

It’s a great tight-budget recipe, using a few pantry ingredients and giving you an opportunity to clean out the fridge. Depending on what you have around, these basically are free. Or, like, five dollars, max. Got some extra zucchini? Slice into matchsticks and throw it in. A few shrimp languishing in your freezer? Thaw, chop and add. I did a vegetarian version, but you could stir leftover cooked meat into the batter if you’ve got some around. Bits of sweet red peppers would be great, too. The only real essentials are a batter (preferably made with half rice flour, which gives it a sweetness and lightness, as well as crispy edges) and a vinegary dipping sauce.

I found the rice flour at a local asian market (M2M, in case you’re in New York.) The package just says “Rice Powder” and it looks a little suspicious, but it tasted great and I’ve lived to tell the tale. It wouldn’t shock me if Whole Foods had some, as well, maybe in the gluten-free section? In fact, I bet you could make these entirely gluten-free with minimal adjustment to the recipe, just subbing out the cup of wheat flour for something safely GF. Many soy sauces aren’t gluten-free, though, so watch out for that.

While I was making these for the first time, I was struck by the similarity to latkes, an old favorite. Even down to the trick of adding a bit of seltzer to fluff up the batter! (Trick courtesy Cathy of Not Eating Out in New York.) These are a bit more soft and pillowy, though. Perhaps we should try dipping latkes in ginger-vinegar sauce. Now that’s fusion.

Vegetarian Korean Pancakes (Pa Jeon)
adapted from Mark Bittman
Serves 2

For pa jeon:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup rice flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups cold unflavored seltzer water
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus extra for the pan
1 cup garlic chives (scallions are ok), sliced in 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup carrots, peeled cut into thin matchsticks (if you grate them, they disappear into the batter)
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon prepared kimchi, chopped, plus additional for serving

For vinegar dipping sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

To prepare dipping sauce, stir first first four ingredients in a bowl until sugar dissolves. Add ginger and stir, crushing slighly against the sides of the bowl. Let macerate, stir in sesame seeds when you’re ready to serve.

In a large bowl, gently mix flours, eggs, seltzer, and oil until smooth. Let rest a few minutes while you prepare the vegetables. Stir in vegetables, including kimchi, tossing to coat. Heat a large seasoned cast iron pan over medium heat and coat with a bit of oil. When pan is hot, drop batter with a ladle to form 4 or five pancakes (smaller pancakes are easier to flip than large.) Spread out batter so it’s no more than a half-inch thick. Turn heat down to medium-low. Cook about 4 minutes, flipping when pancake no longer resists, then cook about 4 minutes on the other side. Pancake should be crispy and brown, with no liquid inside. Remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve hot with vinegar dipping sauce, extra kimchi, and hot sauce, if desired.

Disaster pancakes: Better than they sound.


I will come clean and admit this much: I have never been much of a breakfaster. A bruncher, sure. But if given a choice between cooking a hot breakfast and sleeping an extra fifteen minutes? Give me the snooze button and a bowl of cereal, any time.

…and this is exactly why I probably should have considered it a warning sign when I woke up on Saturday with a maddening desire for Real Breakfast. If I’d been clever, I would have gone back to bed. But nooooooo. I wanted to MAKE something to eat!

Specifically, I wanted to make pancakes. (This was convenient, as after rooting around in the fridge I determined that pancakes were the only thing we had the ingredients on hand for.) Even more specifically, I wanted to make gingered pancakes, which I’d had at a diner in Austin, and just couldn’t stop thinking about.

(My, what’s that? Could it be a whiff of impending doom?)


In a stunning display that proves that I should not be allowed near a source of flame before I’ve had my morning coffee, I managed to more or less fuse a layer of the non-stick spray that I was using to the frying pan (I know, it sounds weird), filling the house with smoke and turning the inside of my pan a rather terrifying shade of black. Yep, the world’s biggest fan of slow and low turned the heat up too high and made her kitchen smell like the green room at a beauty pageant–melted, smoky, and stinking to high heaven. It’s a miracle I didn’t set the whole place on fire.

Catastrophe was averted only because Bench heroically disconnected my smoke detector before it started screaming, and managed to calm me down when all the pancakes started turning black, too. Not exactly burnt, just black on the outside. Yeah. Suffice it to say, not my finest moment.

Fortunately, there was redemption: even though they looked like hockey pucks, they were fluffy, spicy, and delicious–perfect.

So, lesson learned: turn down the heat, invest in a nonstick griddle. Simplicity itself. However, the next time I’m craving gingered pancakes, I think it would be best for all involved if I made them for dinner instead; I’ll leave breakfast to Bench, who is quite a glad hand with scrambled eggs. You, I think, don’t need to be so cautious–if you have a good grasp of what your stove is capable of (or a more highly evolved self-preservation instinct), I recommend you make these as often as possible.

Gingered half wheat pancakes

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1c buttermilk
2 tbsp melted butter
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod (you can substitute in 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
2tsp (or more) ground ginger

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Add the egg and buttermilk; mix well
  3. Add the melted butter.
  4. Cook a quarter cup at a time on a lightly oiled griddle (or nonstick pan)–the pancakes will be about 3.5-4in in diameter. Flip when bubbles start to form in the center.
  5. Serve with bacon and maple syrup (or fresh fruit. or anything, really.)

As an aside, next time i’ll probably spice things up with a little crystallized ginger…but I bet they’d be awesome with blueberries, too.

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