Sunday, April 14, 2013

Connecting With My Inner Korean Cook

One evening, when The Oldest was in a Montessori preschool with an international focus, The Other Half came home and told me that he had spoken with one of the teachers about their upcoming Thanksgiving Feast. She had asked if I would be willing to make a dish to share. Knowing how much I love to cook and bake, he said that he'd double check with me but didn't think it would be a problem. 

Remarkably, he remembered to tell me. He relayed that it was supposed to be something special - something that we had as a family at Thanksgiving that was part of our tradition. Immediately I started thinking about making chocolate pecan pies or looking up my late grandmother's apple pie recipe because those were, after all, our tradition.

When I dropped off The Oldest at preschool the following day I was met with a very happy teacher who was smiling from ear to ear. "We're so excited," she gushed. "Thank you for making something for our Thanksgiving feast! We've never had Korean food before!"

Panic on the inside. Calm and cool on the outside. 

Uh. Hmmm. Well. Yeah. About that...

I smiled. Nodded. Said I was happy to and that I looked forward to it.

As soon as I got to my car I called my husband in a panic.


In his defense, he probably didn't know. He sounded so dumbfounded there's no way he could have known. He tried to tell me to calm down, that it would be okay but all I could think about was how I, the Americanized Korean Adoptee who knows exactly three words of Korean and sadly doesn't even like kimchi, was going to be able to pull off making a Korean dish, let alone enough of a Korean dish to share. Ask me to make chicken tetrazzini? No problem. Strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream? I'm a master. Korean food?

When I got home, in a frenzied panic I pulled out a cookbook that my father had given me for Christmas and began leafing through the pages. I wanted to make an authentic dish but the first requirement was it had to be something that I thought people would be willing to try with a very close second requirement that I had to be able to find the ingredients and third that it wouldn't take eons for me to make. Strike one. Strike two. Strike three. I was out. 

Out of desperation I turned to the internet and began searching out websites and finally found one that I thought might work. It looked fairly simple, could be made for a large group easily and didn't look so strange that people wouldn't wonder whether or not they dared try it. To this day I have no idea as to the authenticity, but they ended up being a huge hit and the school finally had their Korean food. 

Pa Jun (Korean Scallion Pancake)

Prep Time - 10 minutes | Cook Time - 10 minutes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 1 bunch scallions, halved and cut into 2 to 3 inch lenghs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • oil for cooking
  1. Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 10 minutes. Check consistency before cooking - the batter should be a little bit runnier than American pancake batter so the Pa Jun cooks quickly and evenly. 
  2. Heat a saute pan over medium heat and coat with a thin layer of oil
  3. Pour enough batter into pan to create a thin layer (about 1/3 of the batter)
  4. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until set and golden brown on the bottom
  5. Turn over with a spatula or plate and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add more oil if needed.
  6. Serve with soy sauce or other Asian inspired dipping sauces. Serves 4 as an appetizer or as a side dish.

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