Recipe: Gluten-Free Pajeon

The breakfast of the day (and last Saturday too), this is a Korean staple, or at least our effort at it — very versatile, pretty simple, and a nice option that elaborates on the more usual pancake. This particular recipe is our own version that relies on a gluten-free flour mixture (but which can be made with plain old flour, or any off-the-shelf brand of gluten-free flour for that matter), but is based on an original Korean recipe.

(We watch a lot of Korean variety shows, and they include a lot of Korean food being eaten. After a while, you really do get a hankering to try it for yourself.)

Anyway, Pajeon could be described as “green onion pancakes” (or “spring onion pancakes”, should you be of the British persuasion), and are a savoury, oniony variant on the pancakes eaten in England on Shrove Tuesday. They’re a little more dense, too, and thicker, so they turn out as crispy and chewy, and can be torn into chunks to dip and eat as finger-food.

The variant in the picture added shredded pork, and it seems to be not at all unusual for Koreans to throw all manner of interesting left-overs into the mixture to cook. But what you add is down to you — the basic recipe itself is 100% vegetarian, and fairly versatile if you want to play around with your own additions.

The bowl is a spicy dip, the recipe for which is also below, but you could probably try this with almost anything as a sauce, or just eaten plain (which I usually do with about half of mine).

Pajeon Ingredients

– 1 cup gluten free flour (1/3 white rice flour, 1/3 brown rice flour, 1/3 tapioca flour : or substitute any other flour)
– 8-10 green onions (spring onions), green parts only, cut into 1-2″ pieces
– 1 small-medium zucchini (courgette, y’all), shredded or cut into matchsticks (we use a mandoline with teeth to make this easy)
– 3/4 tsp sea salt
– 3/4 cup chilled water
– 1 egg, beaten
– Neutral oil for frying (we use sunflower)

Pajeon Method

  1. Wash and clean the zucchini & green onions before beginning.
  2. Whisk together the flour and salt (don’t over-whisk if using all-purpose flour).
  3. Combine together the dry ingredients with the egg and water, then stir the mixture until it’s a smooth batter.
  4. Lightly sautée the vegetables in a little oil, then take off the heat.
  5. Mix the sauteed vegetables into the batter, and stir until even. [*1]
  6. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan (if you’re cooking a lot at once, it’s worth heating up two) at around medium heat. Once hot, pour batter in roughly 1/3 to 1/2 cup measures. Cook until one side is nicely browned, then flip, and remove to a plate once both sides are cooked.
  7. Repeat until you’ve run out of batter, and serve fresh.

The dipping sauce my wife makes is delicious, but the ingredients may be a little tricky to find if you’ve not already been cooking with Asian ingredients. Here it is all the same, though:

Ingredients: Dipping Sauce
– 2 teaspoons ground chili paste
– 2 teaspoons sesame oil
– 2 teaspoons minced garlic
– 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Gochujang
– 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce [*2]
– 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
– 2 teaspoons honey

For the sauce, just mix together, and let it sit in the fridge. It’s better if it’s had a little while to rest before serving, so ideally, make the sauce up before starting on the Pajeon, or the night before.

If you don’t have the ingredients for this version, another recipe that we saw online omits the chili paste, replaces the Gochujang with chili flakes, and omits the sesame oil in favour of toasted sesame seeds. (Freshly toasted sesame seeds are delicious, but if you have the oil to hand, then it adds the same flavour for much less hassle!)

[*1] As an alternative to mixing everything together, you may choose to set aside the vegetables, then scoop them into the pan and pour the batter over. This produces slightly different results, so it’s worth playing to see which you like better — but the mixed-together method is a little simpler!

[*2] For a completely gluten-free experience, you can ditch the soy sauce and try one of the alternatives — Tamari is a fully gluten-free alternative to soy sauce, and another alternative is coconut aminos, which are popular with gluten-free advocates. If you’re particularly gluten sensitive, then either of these will work better for you than straight-up soy sauce, which includes wheat as one of its ingredients.

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