I think Korean food is just naturally yummy. From all-you-can-eat samgyeopsal—which is pretty much the only meat I’ll really and truly miss!—to freshly-cooked bibimbap. Korea seems to produce a lot of good stuff: K-Pop idols, pajeon, samgyeopsal, K-dramas, pajeon… Whoops. I guess it shows you what I’ve been thinking about lately: pajeon, or Korean pancakes. Not like I’m ever not thinking of food. (Wait, what?)
My mom makes a really good vegetarian pajeon. She came up with the recipe herself, so it’s pretty unique.
I love these Korean pancakes so much because you can actually see and taste the vegetables inside. Taste them. I think a lot of vegetarian dishes forget about the fact that “vegetarianism” and “vegetables” should go hand-in-hand. Instead, veggie burgers and fake meats get pushed on me, and I always have to push back with a big “Yuck! Those are disgusting!”
Two of the key ingredients for both the sauce and the pancake batter are gochujang (hot pepper paste) and the vegetable pancake mix. You should be able to find them at any Korean market or general Asian market. Please please please don’t forget these—your Korean pancakes just won’t be the same without them! I’m trying to save you from impending culinary doom!
Watching Mom make it, I realized that it’s not actually that difficult. Also, it tastes good. Very good.
We experimented a little on the sauce, adding gochujang to it for some more flavor. Luckily, nothing exploded, aside from our minds, which were subsequently blown. At least you’ll have a unique sauce to go with your Korean pancakes!
Wow, wouldn’t it be really embarrassing if the authentic sauce actually does have gochujang and we’re not being creative at all, just slightly ignorant of what it’s supposed to be? (I feel like every dead Korean is rolling over in their grave right now.)
Vegetarian Pajeon (Korean Pancakes)
For the sesame soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon gochujang (hot pepper paste) ~ this is optional, but it makes it unique! It tastes great, too!
For the pancakes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups vegetable pancake mix
- 2 cups water ~ you may need more or less depending on the package directions for the vegetable pancake mix
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (hot pepper paste)
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly julienned
- 2 small-sized zucchini squash, thinly julienned OR 1 large zucchini, thinly julienned
- 3 cups matchstick carrots
- 3 stalks green onions, chopped
- In a small bowl, combine ingredients for sesame soy sauce and mix. Add in half of the chopped green onions as well as sesame seeds, then set aside.
- Heat oil in a skillet.
- Place 2 cups vegetable pancake mix with 2 cups of water in a bowl. If your package of vegetable pancake mix wants you to use a different amount of water, follow their instructions instead. Mix well until there are no lumps. Then mix in the gochujang.
- Add vegetables into the batter. Mix well.
- Scoop out ½ cup of batter mixture and pour into the skillet.
- Fry the batter mixture on both sides until browned and crispy.
- Serve with the sesame soy sauce and enjoy!