Korean vegetable pancakes (jeon) are not sweet breakfast treats to be coated with maple syrup. Jeon are simple flat cakes of vegetables, fish or meat coated with a flour and egg batter and pan fried. These delicious cakes are served as a side dish or as a complete meal.
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I first sampled jeon at a bar in South Korea where bankers were gathering to drink and relax after a hard day’s work. It was my first trip to Seoul. My friends and I had stumbled upon the bar/restaurant while searching for authentic, traditional Korea food near our hotel in Myeongdong after a busy day of sightseeing.
We ordered a huge platter of assorted jeon and spicy short ribs that took your breath away. It was one of the most delicious meals of our trip (and we had a great time watching the locals unwind!).
Korean Vegetable Pancake
I have been working on a recipe for mixed vegetable jeon since that first exciting trip to Seoul. It is an easy recipe to master and can be made with many different vegetables.
Traditional jeon can be made with one or more vegetables including zucchini, green onion, and mushrooms. My recipes combines several types of common American vegetables with a light batter to make a delicate, flavorful pancake.
Summer Vegetable Overload
I make a lot of jeon in the summer for three reasons:
- This recipe is perfect for the end of summer when fresh vegetables are plentiful. (Hint: it’s a great use for zucchini).
- It makes a great dinner without using the oven, always a plus when it is hot outside.
- It gets kids to eat vegetables, lots of vegetables.
Spicy Dipping Sauce
Jeon is great with many sauces from soy sauce to ketchup. I love serving the pancakes with a spicy soy dipping sauce made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, onion, garlic, and jalapenos. If you don’t love spicy food you can skip the diced vegetables but still enjoy the zingy soy/vinegar dipping sauce.
I serve jeon with rice and Asian Cucumber Salad for a delicious vegetarian meal that is full of vegetables and FLAVOR. If you want to be completely authentic, use stainless steel chopsticks for the meal (you can buy them here ). They are my favorite Korean purchase, chopsticks that can go in the dishwasher!
Korean jeon are simple flat cakes of vegetables, fish or meat coated with a flour and egg batter and pan fried. These delicious treats are served as a side dish or as a complete meal. this recipe combines several types of vegetables with a light batter to make a delicate, flavorful jeon. It’s a great recipe for the end of summer when fresh vegetables are plentiful (and a great use for the huge zucchinis lurking in your garden). Serve jeon with spicy soy dipping sauce.
- 2 c yellow summer squash or zucchini (washed, deseeded, and grated)
- 1 ½ c carrots (peeled and grated)
- 2 c yellow potatoes (peeled and grated)
- 3/4 cup green onions (finely diced, about 4 onions )
- 3/4 cup orange or red sweet pepper (finely diced, about 1 pepper )
- 2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- ¾ - 1 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- vegetable oil or olive oil (for frying)
- sesame oil (for frying)
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp white onion (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely diced)
- 1 green jalapeno pepper (about 2 inches long, sliced, leave in seeds)
Place all vegetable in a large bowl. (Use s a food processor to grate the squash, carrot and potatoes, it makes the recipe much faster.)
Stir flour into vegetables until well distributed.
Add egg and ¾ cup water, stir. If batter is very stiff add remaining ¼ cup of water.
Stir in salt and pepper
Heat ½ tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil in a skillet and swirl to coat pan bottom. Place ¼ cup of batter in skillet and use wooden spoon or spatula to spread until thin and evenly distributed (about ¼ inch).
Fry pancake until golden and crispy, using clean spatula to raise pancake and allow oil to reach beneath (this takes about 3-5 minutes).
Flip pancake, after 2 minutes drizzle a small amount of sesame oil (1/8 tsp) around the skillet at the outside edge of the pancake.
Again, use a spatula to allow the oil to reach completely under the pancake. Make sure that the pancake is tender in the center and very crispy on the outside.
Remove pancake from skillet and place on a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Continue until all pancakes are cooked. Add extra vegetable oil or olive oil between batches as needed.
Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, white onion, garlic, sliced jalapeno pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Let ingredients sit together while you cook the pancakes or for several hours, if possible.
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