Kid-friendly Crispy Korean Kid-Made Veggie Pancakes Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Crispy Korean Kid-Made Veggie Pancakes

Recipe: Crispy Korean Kid-Made Veggie Pancakes

Crispy Korean Kid-Made Veggie Pancakes

by Erin Fletter
Photo by tab62/Shutterstock.com
prep time
20 minutes
cook time
2 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Crispy Korean Kid-Made Veggie Pancakes

Crispy Korean scallion pancakes, called "pajeon" (PAH-chahn), are one of the most popular street-food snacks in Korea and one of our most beloved pancake versions. Pajeon are loaded with scallions, but they can also include other vegetables, kimchi, seafood, or sometimes a combination! They come out crisp-edged and tender-bellied, and they have to be eaten straight off the griddle with a sesame-soy dipping sauce. When Chef Jacqui lived in Seoul, these were one of her favorite late-night snacks. Kids, college students, and adults eat pajeon with a passion in Korea, and you'll find various flavors and techniques depending on the country's region. One thing Koreans have in common is their loyal connection with food, weather, and health. On rainy days in Korea, people eat crispy pajeon and drink a sort of fermented, bubbly rice wine called "makgeolli" (MAHK-oh-lee).  

It wasn't raining when Chef Jacqui tested this recipe for SFC. Instead, a dusty, powdered-sugar snow fell and covered the outside world. She added kimchi to the batter because she had some. She heard the familiar sizzle of the red-stained batter as it hit the layer of hot butter in the skillet. She turned her back to whisk up the Umami Sweet Sour Sauce, and her senses told her when it was time to flip. The sizzling had quieted, and she could smell the kimchi caramelizing. Once done, she turned the pajeon onto a plate and used her hands to rip apart pieces still hot with melted fat, running them through the sweet-salty-tart dipping sauce between bites. They were perfect: crispy at the edges, tender, and just barely cooked on the inside. For those moments, she was right back in Seoul tasting the food she'd forgotten she missed so much!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • grate :

    to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • slice :

    to cut into thin pieces using a sawing motion with your knife.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Large skillet
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Small bowls
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Ladle
  • Pancake turner or heat-resistant spatula
scale
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7X

Ingredients

Crispy Korean Kid-Made Veggie Pancakes

  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free flour)**
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves, minced)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1 T ground flaxseed + 3 T warm water—more info below)**
  • 1 green onion/scallion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 C of ice
  • 1 1/4 water
  • 2 T butter, for frying pancakes **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub olive oil or vegetable oil)**
  • CREATIVE PANCAKE ADD-IN OPTIONS - choose at least 4:
  • carrot
  • zucchini
  • bell pepper
  • cabbage
  • extra green onions/scallions
  • radish
  • frozen corn
  • frozen peas
  • frozen hash browns

Food Allergen Substitutions

Crispy Korean Kid-Made Veggie Pancakes

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour in Pancakes.
  • Egg: For 1 egg, substitute 1 T ground flaxseed + 3 T warm water. Stir and soak flaxseeds in warm water for 5 minutes or until fully absorbed and thickened.
  • Dairy: Substitute olive oil or vegetable oil for butter to fry Pancakes.

Instructions

Crispy Korean Kid-Made Veggie Pancakes

1.
measure + whisk

Measure 1 1/2 cup flour, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt into a large mixing bowl! Whisk to combine all the ingredients.

2.
add + stir

In a separate bowl, add 1/4 cup ice and 1 1/4 cups water and stir until the ice melts.

3.
crack + whisk + count

Crack 1 egg into a small bowl and whisk it. Add the whisked egg and the icy cold water to the flour mixture and stir until the batter is well mixed and all bits of flour disappear! Set aside. Count to 10 in Korean while your whisking: 1 hana (Ha-na), 2 dul (dhool), 3 set (set), 4 Net (net), 5 dasot (Da-sut), 6 yasot (Yo-sut), 7 ilgup (Eel-gope), 8 yodol (Yo-dull), 9 ahop (Ah-hope), 10 yeol (yull).

4.
slice + chop + grate

Slice 3 green onions into thin slices (as thin as possible). Depending on which add-ins kids selected, have them grate carrots, zucchini, or cabbage, and chop bell peppers or radishes into small bits. Add the green onions and other veggies to the batter.

5.
melt + fry + flip

Melt 2 T butter in a large skillet over medium heat. (Adults may need to help with this.) Ladle about 3 tablespoons worth of batter per pancake into your skillet. Flip when golden brown on one side, about 1 minute. Cook the other side until golden brown. Continue until you’ve cooked all your batter, adding more butter between batches as needed. Serve with Umami Sweet-Sour Dipping Sauce and ENJOY!

Surprise Ingredient: Onions!

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Photo by BearFotos/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I'm Onion!

"Did you know that onions are vegetables? My close relatives are chive, garlic, and leek, and I'm a distant cousin of the amaryllis and daffodil. I'm actually the edible bulb of the onion plant!  

History & Etymology

  • The onion is thought to be native to Asia, but there are also ancient remnants from Iran, India, and Egypt.
  • The Egyptians even worshiped onions! They believed their circular shape and layers symbolized eternal life, and often onions were placed in ancient tombs to bring prosperity to mummies in the afterlife.
  • Ancient Greek and Roman athletes used to eat onions to get strong, and they even rubbed onions on their bodies before competing in events like the Olympics.
  • In medieval times, people used onions as a form of currency! Imagine paying bills with a bag of onions!
  • Native Americans in Eastern Canada and the Eastern United States ate a species of wild onion, also called ramps or wild leek. 
  • China is the largest producer of onions. In the US, California grows the most onions.
  • Some people around the world say, possibly as early as 3,000 years ago in China, that onions can predict the weather. 
  • There is even a saying about onions and the weather that goes like this: "Onion's skin very thin, mild winter coming in; onion's skin thick and tough, coming winter cold and rough."
  • The word "onion" comes from Middle English from the Old French "oignon," based on the Latin "unionem," literally "union," indicating the unity of the layers of the onion. 

Anatomy

  • Onions are part of the "Allium cepa" genus. "Cepa" is Latin for "onion." The common onion plant grows from 6 to 18 inches tall. 
  • They have hollow green leaves that grow upward and fan out of a covered stem from the top of the bulb. Roots extend out of the basal plate at the bottom of the bulb into the soil.
  • The onion bulb is described as having a "globe" shape. It is made up of fleshy leaves that grow around the flower bud in the middle. These fleshy leaves are covered by scaly leaves, the onion's "skin," that dry out and become papery when it is time for the onion to be harvested.

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • There are lots of onion varieties! Green onions (also called scallions or spring onions) are mild in flavor, and both the bulbs and top leaves can be eaten. They are often found in salads and stir-fry dishes. They have a small, not fully developed white bulb end with long green stalks. The white shaft of the plant extends from the roots to the leaves.  
  • Yellow onions can be pungent or sweet. The Spanish onion is a common pungent variety typically found in grocery stores. The Vidalia is a sweet onion from the state of Georgia, and the Walla Walla is a sweet onion from the state of Washington. 
  • White onions have a sharp flavor and are often used in Mexican cooking. Red onions are sweeter than yellow and white onions and are used raw in salads and on burgers. 
  • The shallot is a smaller variety with a milder pungent flavor often used in sautéed dishes, sauces, and stocks. Pearl onions are tiny bulbs that are mild in flavor and great for pickling.
  • Store whole raw onions in a cool, dark location. Cut onions will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Store them in an airtight container that will not absorb their smell (i.e., glass rather than plastic).
  • Onions can cause eye irritation and tears when you cut into them. This is because a chemical compound called syn-propanethial-S-oxide is released into the air when you slice an onion, and tears are produced to wash it away. 
  • Chilling onions in the refrigerator or a bowl of ice water before cutting them can decrease the amount of irritation. Other suggestions include using a sharp knife, holding a piece of bread in your mouth while you slice, or wearing goggles. 

Nutrition

  • Onions have a high water content, about 89 percent, and are low in calories. They contain low amounts of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients.

What is Pajeon?

Photo by sungsu han/Shutterstock.com
  • "Pajeon" (PAH-chahn) is a type of green onion or scallion pancake. "Pa" means "green onion" in Korean, and "jeon" (chahn) is the name of a Korean fritter. There are several versions of jeon, with seafood (haemul pajeon), kimchi (kimchi jeon), and squid (ojing'eo jeon). 
  • The traditional way to cook pajeon is to lay whole scallions parallel to each other in a hot frying pan, then pour a batter made of eggs, wheat flour, and rice flour over the scallions in a circle to make a huge pancake. The scallions remain very visible in the fried batter.
  • On rainy days, Koreans eat crispy pajeon and drink cold makgeolli (MAHK-oh-lee), a fermented, bubbly rice wine. One theory says they eat pajeon when it rains because the pancake sizzling in the pan mirrors the sound of the rain falling outside. Another idea is that when it rains, our production of melatonin drops, and eating carbohydrate-rich foods helps to elevate our mood. Eating pajeon definitely does that, no matter the season!

Let's Learn About South Korea!

Photo by JEONGHYEON NOH/Shutterstock.com
  • South Korea is officially named the Republic of Korea. It is a separate country from North Korea. This is because North and South Korea were divided into two countries during the Korean War in the 1950s. 
  • South Korea has a day dedicated to celebrating their children: May 5th. A children's book author started it because he wanted Korean children to have a sense of independence and national pride. It was designated a national holiday in 1975. On this day, cities and towns celebrate with parades, and children receive free admission to many movies, zoos, and theme parks. 
  • Literacy is high—98 percent of Korean adults can read! The alphabet of the Korean language is called Hangul. King Sejong the Great created it in 1443 to increase literacy. Korea's previous alphabet was Hanja or Han Chinese Characters. Today, Hangul is considered one of the most efficient alphabets in the world.  
  • Seoul, the capital city, has a population of about 10 million, densely packed into a small area. Many people live in high-rise apartments.
  • Koreans have two New Year's Days. In addition to January 1st, Koreans also celebrate the Lunar New Year in February.
  • The Korean martial art taekwondo is the national sport. Unsurprisingly, Koreans have won the most Olympic gold medals in taekwondo.
  • Korean babies are considered one year old on the day they are born, then add another year on New Year's Day. Historically, Koreans have not celebrated their birthdays on the day they were born; instead, they celebrate turning one year older collectively on New Year's Day. 
  • Parents hold a party on a baby's first birthday and place several objects on a table to let the child pick their favorite. Whatever the child chooses is believed to predict their future or a dominant personality trait. For example, if the child picks up a book, they are destined to be smart; if the child picks up money, they will be wealthy; if the child picks up food, they will not be hungry; and if the child picks up the thread, they will live a long life.
  • Koreans are very in tune with their bodies, eat the right amount of food, and focus on nutrition. The temperature of their food matters to them. Koreans follow Eastern Asian medicine principles: on the hottest days of the summer, it's traditional to eat boiling chicken ginseng soup! The rationale behind it? There shouldn't be a sharp contrast between a person's body temperature and one's food—or else, your stomach will get upset.
  • Kimchi, the nation's favorite dish eaten at almost every meal, is made by fermenting vegetables, fruit, and even oysters. It is said to help prevent the flu. Kimchi becomes more sour and potent the longer it sits. There are 250 different kinds of kimchi! 
  • During autumn, Korean families come together to make enough kimchi to last several months, sharing with neighbors, friends, and family. This holiday is called Kimjang. 
  • Korean adults eat seaweed soup on their birthdays for good luck, long life, and to honor their mothers. Women who have just given birth also have the soup as it is rich in minerals and nutrients. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in South Korea?

  • South Koreans treasure children, and family is very important. They teach kids to respect parents and elders. It is a custom for kids and adults to take their shoes off when they enter the home.
  • Many parents have high expectations for their kids' education. Middle and high school kids have long days at school that last from 8 am until 5 pm, and then they may have extra school, tutoring, and homework until 10 pm or later.
  • Computer games are extremely popular with South Korean kids. However, they may also play some traditional games. One game is "gonggi" (KON-chee). It is similar to "jacks" but played with small genuine or plastic stones. One of the tricks is to land the stone on the back of your hand after picking it up and throwing it in the air. Another game is "jegichagi," played alone or with other players by kicking a paper "jegi" (like a badminton shuttlecock) in the air and trying to keep it aloft.
  • Some of the sports kids participate in are football (soccer), baseball, golf, skiing, ice skating, and taekwondo, a martial art. In addition, they like music, especially K-pop music (Korean pop).
  • Children learn "nunchi" (noon-chee) by three years old. The literal translation is "eye-measure" and could also be called emotional intelligence. Kids learn to be aware of their environment, observe people and situations, quickly discern another person's mood, read a situation correctly, and respond accordingly. Nunchi helps a person navigate their world in a caring and intelligent way throughout their life. 
  • Kids have rice with just about every meal. They will eat it with eggs, fish, or another protein for breakfast. They may have "ramyeon," which is like "ramen," a Japanese noodle soup, or more rice and protein for lunch. Desserts made with sweet rice or red beans are popular. For example, kids may have "bingsu," shaved ice often topped with sweet red beans and sweetened condensed milk, or "bungeo-ppang," a fish-shaped pastry filled with sweetened red bean paste, pastry cream, or chocolate and cooked like a waffle.

The Yolk's On You

Why did Mr. Potato Head have a cell phone?

In case Mr. Onion Rings!

Lettuce Joke Around

How did the hipster burn her tongue?

She ate pajeon long before it was cool.

THYME for a Laugh

What did the boy do when he saw an onion ring?

He answered it!

That's Berry Funny

What do you call an onion that won’t hold water?

A leek!

The Yolk's On You

What do you call a hobbit with a healthy appetite?

Lord of the Onion Rings!

THYME for a Laugh

I’m allergic to green onions.

Every time I eat them, I break out in chives!

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