Saturday, October 6, 2018

[Food] Pajeon (파전, Korean green onion pancake)


[Food] Pajeon (파전, Korean green onion pancake)

A rainy day in Gangnam (which is famous area for the Gangnam Style), Seoul

Heavy rain has poured down since yesterday, and it is still raining cats and dogs. Personally, I like rainy days with the sounds of rain drops falling on the window pane. It sounds like a xylophone to me :). In contrast, my proud ancestors had likened the sound of rain drops to griddling Pajeon on an iron plate or a pan. I wish I could let you hear it.

Gamasot (Korean iron pot)

Meat is being roasted on a Gamasot (Korean iron pot)

If you were to listen to the sound of something frying on an oily pan, I think you'd understand what they were thinking. So if you ask any Korean 'What food do you think of on a rainy day?' 80% of them would answer 'Pajeon', because their ancestors' thoughts had transcended to the present and reminded them of Pajeon to eat on a rainy day. Pajeon and rice liquor on a rainy day is part of Korean food culture.

Pajeon and Makgeoli (Korean rice liquor)

Pajeon is a well-known traditional food of the Dongnae area in Busan (Yes, the city of Dwaeji Gukbap). The people of Dongnae have planted green onions for so long, and they say that the taste and smell of green onions is different each month (isn't that interesting?), which creates a slightly different taste of Pajeon each month.

Dongnae Pajeon was so popular in the Chosun dynasty (1500 - 1900 A.D.) so people said 'Let's go to Dongnae market to eat Pajeon'.

A view of Dongnae from the Dongnae fortress. Busan was the first city that protected Korea from the Japanese invasion

A traditional building in Dongnae

"Okay, okay. Now stop your explanations Prof. Kim...let's eat, please? Your Pajeon is here."

"Wait, mom. Let me put some sour chili paste for you in a sauce dish."

These days, Koreans usually eat Pajeon with soy sauce, but original Pajeon is traditionally eaten with sour red chili sauce.

I'm in the original Dongnae Pajeon restaurant with my mom. This place is one of my favorite restaurants in Busan despite its cost, because the taste of Pajeon always satisfies me :) Present Korean green onion pancake is usually made with flour, but flour was a very rare ingredient in Korea before the early 20th century...therefore Koreans used rice powder instead. It doesn't make tough dough as much as flour does, but it makes very soft and smooth Pajeon which is very popular for Koreans :) However it is very hard to make Pajeon with rice flour, because it is broken very easily when you try to turn it over due to very little viscosity - compared to flour :(

"No wonder this Pajeon is so expensive...phew" Mom sighed.

"Yes, mom, but the secret traditional recipe and griddling skill justifies the price, I think."

"You can say that if you will pay for it today."

"I think I'd better be quiet from now on."

Shh.....let me tell you some more before I leave....these are ingredients for Pajeon :)

Rice powder

Green onions :)




These are mixed with water, eggs and some more secret ingredients to make Pajeon mixture to be cooked on a pan with special skill that makes un-broken (intact) Pajeon.

Pajeon restaurant and its iron plate

Pajeon with large green onions and chopped squid

There is only one original Dongnae Pajeon eatery in Busan, Korea. I really wish its tradition continues forever :)

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