|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 35g||45%|
|Saturated Fat 13g||63%|
|Total Carbohydrate 38g||14%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 14mg||71%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Pajeon—Korean scallion pancakes—are delicious in their own right, but I love giving them a new life by adding herbs and greens left over from dinner the night before and serving them as a savory brunch. In fact, this recipe is perfect for a lazy Sunday morning when you don’t even want to grab a cutting board. Use scissors to cut the herbs straight into the mixing bowl or have your kids help you tear the herbs into small pieces. Precision doesn’t matter because after the pancakes are made you will slice them into pizza-like triangles.
What Herbs to Use in Your Savory Pancakes
Inspired by bagels and lox, I serve these savory pancakes with a side of lox and crème fraîche. Although “pa” means scallions and “jeon” means savory pancakes, feel free to use any combination of herbs: scallions, leeks, chives, parsley, tarragon, and even minari (Korean watercress) are all good options. I often add a handful of chopped kale or swiss chard, but any veggie scraps like carrots, onions, and celery leaves can be added as well.
Other Ways to Serve These Pancakes
As for a lox substitute, try these pancakes topped with smoked sturgeon or cold smoked trout. For special occasions, I make these herb pancakes to stand in as a blini substitute when serving caviar and the combination is absolutely delightful.
The First Pancake Can Be Our Little Secret
Did you know that Koreans crave savory pancakes when it rains? That’s because pancake batter sizzling in hot oil mimics the sound of raindrops hitting the window. Growing up, whenever it rained on a weekend my mom would give me a look and I would grab a mixing bowl and a bag of flour while she gathered veggie scraps from the fridge.
It was such a great way to spend quality time with my mom who worked during the week. We would always eat the first pancake as soon as it came off the pan, saying, “the first one isn’t good enough to serve to others but is perfect for us to snack on.” To this day, I rarely serve the first pancake to my guests, but rather I serve myself while I cook the second one.
Tips for Making Savory Herb Pancakes
- If you want, you can make smaller pancakes. Use 1/4 cup of batter for each one.
- This pancake mixture is very forgiving and a great way to eat greens. Start with 2 cups of veggies in the batter if you are new at making pajeon. Once you get a hang of it, you will feel more confident and may want to add more veggies. You can increase the veggie mixture to 4 cups.
- Double the recipe to feed a larger group. If you have more than one skillet, you can make two pancakes at a time. Or keep finished pancakes in the oven on its warm setting while you make the remaining pancakes.
- When cutting herbs and greens or vegetables to mix into the batter, just keep in mind that you want them to be flat in the pancake. Otherwise the shape of the ingredients is not so important.
"I loved this twist on Korean scallion pancakes. This version was stuffed with herbs and greens, which made it extremely delicious. I used a 10-inch nonstick skillet and, as a result, only needed 2 tablespoons of oil in total. The lox and crème fraîche were wonderful additions, but the pancakes can stand on their own." —Diana Andrews
2 cups thinly sliced scallions, or cut them into 2-inch long ribbons
1 cup loosely packed finely chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, tarragon and dark leafy greens such as kale or swiss chard
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3 tablespoons neutral oil such as canola oil, more as needed, divided
6 ounces smoked salmon
1/2 cup crème fraîche
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Preheat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or nonstick skillet (preferably a 9- to 12-inch pan) on low heat for about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the scallions, herbs and greens, flour, water, egg, and salt to a medium mixing bowl. Gently mix them together. I like to use my hands to barely incorporate the mixture. The pancake “batter” will not look like your ordinary runny batter. Rather, the batter will look like glue that is holding the veggies together. That is exactly what we want to see.
Increase the heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the skillet. When the oil shimmers, add 1/3 of the pancake batter (approximately 1 cup) to the skillet. Evenly spread the batter to about 6-inches wide. Be careful of potential oil splashes. Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, tap the outer edges of the pancake toward the center to make the whole pancake more round and neat. Cook until the bottom has turned golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes (the first pancake always takes slightly longer than the following ones).
Gently tilt the pan, and flip the pancake. (This is to avoid any runny batter splashing against the oil.) If the pan looks dry, drizzle a tablespoon of oil around the outer edge of the pancake. (This is a scandalous suggestion, but trust me, it works. Also, this prevents you from burning yourself due to a pool of hot oil splashing when you flip the pancake.) Alternatively, carefully flip the pancake with a spatula.
Using the spatula, press down on the pancake. This will help the pancake become thinner and wider, closer to 7- to 8-inches in diameter. Do not be alarmed if raw batter leaks out as you press it down. Tilt the pan and using a spatula, lift up the pancake on one side and let the oil slide under the pancake. This will ensure that even the center of the pancake becomes crispy. Cook until golden brown, another 2 to 3 minutes.
Flip one more time to ensure any raw batter that may have leaked gets cooked through. Cook for about 1 minute more.
Slide the cooked pancake onto a wooden board. Wooden boards absorb any steam from the pancake and help keep the pancake crispy. Feel free to use a cookie rack, although this will make the pancake turn colder than using a wooden board. Repeat steps 4 through 7 with the remaining batter and oil, making 2 more pancakes.
When the pancakes are not too hot to touch, slice into wedges, like pizza. Serve with the lox and the crème fraîche. Enjoy while warm!
Storing and Freezing
If you have any leftover pancakes (which rarely happens), you can keep them in the fridge for up to 5 days. Simply reheat using a non-stick pan. There is no need to add oil when reheating. As the warmth of the pan hits the pancake, the oil within the pancake will help make it crispy again.
- Feel free to use thinly sliced leeks instead of scallions or use a combination of the two.
- For the herbs, use any combination of chives, parsley, tarragon, and even minari (Korean watercress). I often add a handful of chopped kale or swiss chard, but also any veggie scraps like carrots, onions, and celery leaves. Just make sure they are sliced thin enough to sit flat in the pancake.
- I love frying the pancakes in bacon fat, and of course, add cooked bacon bits into the batter. Another perfect brunch, in one!
- Crème fraîche can be easily substituted with sour cream or whipped cream cheese.
- These pancakes can be served without lox and crème fraîche. Feel free to serve with ponzu or soy vinaigrette (soy sauce and balsamic vinegar in a 1:1 ratio) on the side for dipping.
You can have veggies ready to go the night before brunch. The pancake batter is best when made fresh, so do not make the batter in advance.