Haemul pajeon – Korean seafood pancake


This rainy-day Korean snack is a favourite dinner of ours – we call it ‘humpty pigeon’, after my husband mis-read the meals blackboard. Healthy comfort food, it’s an omelette pancake based on spring onions and seafood: ‘pa’ means spring onion, ‘jeon’ pancake, and ‘haemul’ seafood. It’s usually made with shrimp or prawns among the seafood, but finding sustainable ones is so unreliable I almost never buy them any more and use squid instead. This dish is an absolute breeze if you make sure you prep in advance and lay everything nearby so you can just tip it into the frying pan – you don’t want to be scrabbling around toasting sesame seeds at the same time as pouring batter out.

Makes 2 omelettes, each serving one hungry appetite

200g sustainable seafood – squid, creeled crab, mussels, hand-dived scallops, clams etc (avoid prawns unless you know they’re creel/pot/trap caught)

2 garlic cloves, crushed
a bunch of spring onions (about 8)
1 chilli, finely sliced, de-seeded if you prefer
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon sweet miso paste (inauthentic and optional, but good)
150ml ice cold water
3 medium or 2 large eggs
100g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cornflour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons coconut or light olive oil

Dipping sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 clove or 1 small clove garlic, crushed
a sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional)

Mix all the ingredients for the dipping sauce together in a small bowl, and set to one side.

If you’re using squid, clean and slice it into rings.

Whisk the miso paste, if using, into the eggs. Mix the flours and baking powder together in a large bowl. Slowly pour in 100ml of the ice cold water, whisking all the time. Then whisk in the eggs, toasted sesame seeds and crushed garlic, then the remaining water – don’t add it all at once, you might not need it. It should be the consistency of slightly thin pancake batter.

Slice the spring onions in quarters lengthwise. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a frying pan until it’s very hot, then lay half the spring onions all in one direction across the pan. Sizzle for 30 seconds, turn the heat down a bit and dot around half the seafood and the chilli. Immediately ladle in half the batter, drizzling it across the pan so it’s evenly spread. Cook the pancake for three minutes, then (this is the fun bit – be bold) slide the pancake out onto a plate, put the frying pan upside down on top then quickly turn the whole thing over and flip the pancake back onto the heat for a couple of minutes to cook the other side. Don’t worry if it needs coaxing back together a bit, you’re going to tear it apart to dip into the sauce anyway.

Serve straight away – don’t let anyone be polite and wait until the second pancake is cooked, it needs eating while it’s hot, ideally pulling bits off with your hands to dip into the sauce.