Sourdough Discards: Pajeon (Korean Scallion Pancakes)

I will admit… I have not been motivated or inspired to do much photography during isolation… but I have never cooked (or baked) so much in my entire life, either, not since I became a vegan in my early 20’s… (mind you, I am no longer a vegan… I do, however, choose to eat mostly plant-based.)

On my last post, I explained how I’ve been on a quest to find and/or develop a bunch of recipes involving sourdough discard. I came across the idea of making a scallion pancake from this YouTube video my friend sent me during a lengthy text discussion on bread. Mike Greenfield’s method is super simple, but intriguing, and eventually led me down memory lane, all the way back to my high school days, when my best friend at the time, who is Korean, introduced me to pajeon, a Korean scallion pancake. We’d order this as an appetizer and share it amongst ourselves, as a culinary precursor to our bibimbap bowls. Our highschool was also conveniently located near Toronto’s K-town neighbourhood, so we would go as often as we had a bit of money to splurge in meals outside of our school or our homes.

I wanted to make a scallion pancake that was crisp on the outside and mochi-like on the inside. Mike Greenfield’s sourdough discard pancake looks a little too thick for the purposes of creating pajeon, so I went ahead and read a bunch of pajeon recipes and basically distilled all of that information into some key components and techniques, and just factored in my sourdough discard into the ratios I have observed in said recipes. The texture I wanted in my pajeon needed a mix of gluten and gluten-free flour—gluten from the sourdough discard, plus the added body from GF flours without contributing too much heft onto the batter. I was looking for the liquid batter to be somewhere between a pancake and a crepe: lighter in viscosity than a pancake batter, and thicker than a crepe batter.

Try not to overmix this; treat this like you would a tempura batter. Keep the liquids ice cold, then gently fold in the dry ingredients until the batter no longer looks clumpy.

Pajeon with Sourdough Discard

(makes 4 8-inch pancakes)

  • 250 g sourdough discard
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g cornstarch
  • 50 g brown rice flour
  • 40 g whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup ice cold water
  • 1/2 cup ice cold cooking sake
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
  • 4 stalks scallions, cut into matchsticks
  • cooking oil of your choice

1) Weigh the sourdough discard into a bowl. Add in the cold water and cooking sake and mix with your hands, until the discard and the cold liquids have been thoroughly incorporated into each other, without any clumps. Wash your hands, then crack two eggs into the discard/liquid mixture, then beat to mix.

2) Sift the whole wheat flour, cornstarch, and rice flour onto the wet mixture. Add the gochugaru and salt. Fold gently until you observe very little to no clumps.

3) Heat an omelette pan on high. Add the oil. Carefully lay the scallion matchsticks onto the bottom of the pan. Let it sizzle for a moment as you prepare to ladle a single layer of batter over the scallions. Swirl batter to coat the entirety of the pan and let the batter solidify on one side before flipping. Continue with the remaining scallions and batter. Sandwich the pancakes between layers of paper towel while you make the dipping sauce.

Pajeon dipping sauce

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp organic cane sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp gochugaru
  • chopped scallions
  • a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds

4) Make the sauce: whisk the above ingredients together (except for the scallions and the sesame seeds) until the sugar has been dissolved completely. Sprinkle scallions and sesame seeds as a final touch.

5) Cut into small triangles or squares and serve warm with the dipping sauce.



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