Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pa jeon (vegetable pancakes)

As no doubt everybody reading this already knows, I love to cook every day, and I don't love eating leftovers unless they can be cooked into something else.  So I try not to make too much of any one dish so that I'm faced with eating it for days or throwing the leftovers away.  This means that at times the vegetable bins in my refrigerator fill up with bits and pieces--a quarter of a sweet pepper, half a carrot, a slice of onion, half a lime, two mushrooms.  A great way to use those little scraps is in a savory pancake like this one.

My version is based on one in Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee's Quick & Easy Korean Cooking, which I bought the other day while I was for Asian cookbooks...for my MoFo project... It's not a vegan cookbook, but Asian meat and fish recipes are usually pretty easy to veganize and I'm hoping to do that with some of the ones from this book.  Her recipe for pa jeon, however, is vegan, and so simple that I added an experimental twist of my own: I substituted whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour.

It's sad that whole wheat flour doesn't work as well as white flour in these kinds of recipes.  Or rather, doesn't look as good.  Nevertheless, these were very tasty and super-easy to create.  Here's what you do:

Pancake batter
for 2 8-inch pancakes

1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp rice flour
1/4 tsp salt

Mix these three ingredients together in a measuring cup and add water until it attains the texture of thin pancake batter.  You should be able to pour it easily.  These ingredients can be multiplied ad infinitum if you want to make more pancakes.

Now finely slice or julienne the vegetables you'll be using.  These should include green onions but otherwise anything goes.  In mine were red onion, crimini mushrooms, beech mushrooms, carrots, sweet red pepper, green serrano chili, and green onions.  Heat a little vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet, and, when hot, put some of the longer-cooking vegetables (in my case, everything but the green onions and the sweet red pepper which I had cut into very thin shreds) into the bottom of the frying pan.  You only want enough in there to thinly cover the bottom of the pan. 

Stir fry them on medium-high heat just until softened, then add the quick-cooking vegetables:

Continue to stir-fry just until the new vegetables are hot, then pour on the batter.  Start in the middle and work your way out in a spiral.  The batter should be thin enough to spread out around the vegetables by itself:

Fry uncovered on medium-high heat until the bottom is golden, then flip:

You can continue to flip the pancake a couple of times to keep it from burning, until you attain the level of golden done-ness you prefer. 

Slice and serve with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce.  Delicious.  I had it for breakfast, and it made a lovely breakfast.  Not as pretty as the white flour version, but wholesome, you know?


  1. Not as pretty? I think they look beautiful and delicious! :-)

  2. That looks delicious! I'm really excited you are doing Asian stuff for MoFo!

  3. I agree with Chow v, the pancakes look delish. I'm so used to seeing whole wheat flour that it looks perfectly wonderful to me. I've found that using white whole wheat makes the color and texture lighter without sacrificing any nutrition, and I use it for just about everything.

  4. Thanks, everyone! I spent the whole afternoon trying to set up a photographic lighting system over the kitchen table in my house so I could do, like a whole place setting instead of just zeroing in on the food...and failing to get any better results than I can under the stove light. Is it unpatriotic to wish that Canada had longer winter days?

    Andrea, I've read about white whole wheat, and yeah, this sounds like just the ticket for me--I need to find a source...and I will!

    Meanwhile, this whole post got me reflecting again about the ways that food blogging is actually a corrupting influence in some ways. I cook (and of course eat) *way* more white rice, white bread, white pasta now than I ever did pre-blog, though I like the taste of whole grains much better and know they're better for me. Now when I have whole wheat pasta it's all, like, a secret vice against the aesthetic gods. But there are healthy alternatives, as Andrea has pointed out, and that's part of what I hope to explore in my MoFo 2010 quest!

  5. It looks delicious, I love jeon! I've never sautéed the vegetables first, but will give that a try. My WW jeon turn out soggy if I don't add a pinch of baking powder to the batter, how are yours faring?

  6. Cool idea! I like the looks of that dipping sauce too.

  7. Katharine, the pancakes were a little soft, but definitely crispy too. Next time I will follow your suggestion, though. I was thinking of these as a flatbread, but they really are more of a pancake.

    Shenandoah, thanks. The dipping sauce was soy sauce seasoned with garlic, rice vinegar, green onions, and sesame seeds, and it's great!

  8. I used to make something similar to this (though probably not as good) but it's fallen completely out of my repertoire. Thanks for reminding me, and I'm going to try the whole wheat flour as you suggest!

  9. I would really like to try these, such a fun way to eat veggies :) Easy too! Love it.

  10. I realize this comment is a bit late, but I went to go make this and realized that I wasn't sure of the best rice flour to use. I have white rice flour, brown rice flour, and mochiko (sweet rice flour). Any thoughts? Thanks so much!

  11. Hi, Anonymous:

    What you see here is white rice flour. However, I bet brown rice flour would be even more excellent. Mochiko I would not recommend, though. Good luck! This is a great recipe, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.