I didn't grow up with this dish, and I'm not really familiar with what it tastes like in its traditional form. I don't trust my experiences at various Korean restaurants, because there are dishes I know in their traditional form, and the Korean restaurants I've been to don't always follow suit. That said, I drew on my taste for chewy, crispy, greasy pa jun and used a few Web recipes for reference. Below is what I came up with.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup rice flour (non-glutinous)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3/4 - 1 cup very cold water
- 1-2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 4 scallions, cut into 3-inch pieces, white & light-green root pieces further cut lengthwise in half
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 2- to 3-inch strips
1. Combine flours and salt and pepper. Add cold water and stir until you get a batter (you want it thinner than dough) that is liquidy but not completely runny. Think regular pancake batter consistency. (For me, this happened with 3/4 cup water.)
2. Add a glug of sesame oil. If you are cooking for my brother, add another glug for good measure. Set batter aside
3. Stir-fry bell pepper strips over high heat just tender, but still toothsome. Bonus points for caramelized blisters on the skin.
4. Add the scallion pieces to the bell peppers and lightly stir-fry these as well. Salt to taste.
5. Mix the veggies into the batter.
6. Heat an 8" non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola oil -- about two teaspoons. Spoon a ladleful of batter into the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Each side should have brown, crispy spots, and the pancake should turn easily.
7. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice. In our family, that would include soy sauce, vinegar, Korean chile powder, finely chopped scallions, and a bit of sesame oil.
- Several recipes I saw online included egg. I've had pa jun in restaurants that tasted too eggy. Therefore, I omitted egg. I may try this with one egg next time. Maybe.
- Several recipes also used only wheat flour. As with eggs, I think regular flour makes the pa jun taste like a soggy (unleavened) Western-style breakfast pancake, only salty. The rice flour, I gathered, would create the chewy texture I was looking for, soaking up oil and turning crispy in the hot pan. I think I was right. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to use regular rice flour (and not glutinous, or sweet, rice flour). Frankly, though, I can't imagine how using glutinous rice flour would be a bad thing. More chewy goodness. I have sweet rice flour in the pantry as well, so I may give it a whirl. (The regular rice flour I used was from Bob's Red Mill. Check the gluten-free aisle in your supermarket for this.)
- I saw online a few suggestions to add kimchi juice to the batter. BRILLIANT. I shall try this next time.
- Not all recipes asked for pre-cooking the veggies, but I didn't think the time in the pan would be enough to soften the veggies sufficiently. This seemed to work pretty well.