Korean Seafood Pancakes

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finished pancakes (해물파전)My good friend Lani has asked me to send her my Korean pancake recipe and I thought – why not share it with all of you guys, too?! They’re so delicious, a great savory appetizer or brunch food, and leftover “haemul pajeun” 해물파전 (heh-mool pah-juhn) are amazing.

I make this out of whatever I have on hand, and often add or subtract other stuff just to see how it tastes. I taught myself this after eating them in the Korean restaurants around town, so if I have any Korean friends out there feel free to tell me I’m doin’ it wrong.

I’m gonna give you the base recipe and you can add or remove whatever you like. Just be careful with the water content of the items you add and how much they’ll sweat into the batter when cooking – too much water makes for runny pancakes, too little and they’re too dry.

I buy a premix for the batter at the Korean grocery, Super H Mart in Carrollton.  The brand is CJ Foods Korean Pancake Mix, and the bag looks like this. We buy this one because it has English directions on it, and it has the slightly-gummy texture we like best. Other brands make crispier pancakes but we like the softer ones.

The edamame peas are sold shelled and frozen in bags in the freezer section from a Chinese store nearby, Asia World. I usually put them in a bowl of warm water until they’re not frozen, then drain.

A “special” ingredient that I use is homemade garlic oil. I chop about 5-6 heads of garlic, put them in a mason jar with oil, and let it infuse the oil with garlic flavor. We’re big fans of garlic and use this oil and the garlic in most savory dishes. We use it up pretty fast, and it’ll go bad if you leave the garlic oil mix in the fridge for too long, but if you use it up in a few weeks you should be just fine.

Ingredients:

Makes about 12-15 pancakes or 4-5 GIANT pancakes.

All of these measurements are approximate because I don’t usually measure, I eyeball, so if you’d like a little more or less of something feel free to modify. As long as there’s enough batter between the items to hold a pancake together, you’re good 😀

  • Korean Seafood Pancake Mix (the easiest part)
  • 1 lb uncooked 26-30 shrimp, peeled & deveined (or other seafood, whatever you have around)
  • 6-8 sticks crab meat, defrosted and unwrapped (I recommend Nishimoto’s Osaki Fish Cake, a sushi-grade surimi used in many sushi restaurants, and available at many larger Asian grocers. They’re packaged frozen and wrapped individually in a thin plastic wrap. If they’re very wet when defrosted, gently squeeze excess water from them.)
  • 1/4 c chopped chives or green onions
  • 1 c shelled edamame peas
  • oil
  • 3-4 cloves chopped garlic (for dipping and/or frying – feel free to add more if you love garlic)
  • OR combine the previous two and use prepared garlic in oil (see above)
  • You can also add sliced jalapeños for a bit of kick, or other stuff

just-flipped pancakes. OMNOMNOMNOMNOMDirections:

  • Slice the shrimp in two down their midlines, then halve them again, so you have 1/4 shrimp-pieces.
  • Mix the pancake mix per its directions. It’s usually a 1:1 ratio of mix and water, but can vary by brand.
  • Once the mix is lumpless, add shrimp, edamame peas and chives.
  • Add the crab meat by splitting the sticks in half. They’ll split up more when you’re stirring the batter. Don’t shred them or they’ll fall apart when you’re stirring and you won’t be able to taste them at all when the pancakes are cooked.
  • Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the  pan over medium heat. It’s ready when the oil shimmers or lets off a faint “steam”.
  • If you go the home garlic-in-oil route like I do, put a spoon of the garlic (or two or three) (no, seriously) in the pan and cook it until it starts to brown on the edges. This is not something you want to walk away from, because garlic burns VERY fast once it’s started down that road. A very dark brown is acceptable, and now that I think of it, blackened garlic isn’t all that bad, so don’t be afraid to push the limits here.
  • Pour spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan. I fit about 5-6 in an 11″ skillet. The pancakes will end up just about the size of the patty you make. They don’t spread much, maybe a centimeter or so. You want them all to be uniform in thickness, about 1/2″ deep, so if the semi-gelatinous mix is too tall, smush it around a bit until it’s as flat as the others. It will settle a bit more but not too much.
  • You can also make a GIANT 1/2″ pancake and fill the pan but it’s heavy and hard to flip unless you have a double-sided pan made for that.
  • You know they’re ready to be turned when the surface of the pancake surface has turned matte and is no longer shiny. You’ll also see the edges looking “done”, and you may notice bubbles in the mix that have solidified.
  • Flip the pancake and cook it until browned. I like both sides of my pancakes browned and I’m not a fan of “wet” shrimp, so I cook them thoroughly. I’ve had some that are still wet in the middle, and that’s a-OK if you like them like that, no chicken or other scary ingredients in here.
  • Let the pan cool for a about a minute after you remove the pancakes and put garlic in for the next batch. The garlic will burn in seconds if you put it in a too-hot pan.

Restaurants usually use too much oil for my taste, because these babies soak it up like you wouldn’t believe. I prefer to make these at home because I know I won’t be stingy with the crab meat and shrimp and they won’t be too oily.

If you’re interested in learning more about this haphazard, half-assed method of cooking I do, check out this book, Ratio – The Simple Codes Behind The Craft of Everyday Cooking. It taught me how to look like I know what I’m doing and take chances with recipes.

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