When Your Wilted Produce Needs New Life, Make This Pajeon


The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy to make that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simplea column where we talk you through the process of making the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed.

In my family we live by a few key food rules: Chew your food, clean up after yourself, and most importantly, never, ever waste food. It’s why my mom would hover over me until I ate the last kernel of rice from my plate, or how she was able to whip up delicious meals reborn from leftover knobs of produce from the fridge. This no-waste tenet has been burned into my brain. Whenever I have veggies wilting away in my crisper drawer, my no-waste spidey senses spring into action and I turn to one recipe time and time again: pajeon, one of my favorite childhood dishes.

Pajeon can take many forms. In its broadest definition, it’s a savory Korean pancake with a variety of vegetables, meat, and/or seafood. It has a particularly cravable texture that’s both chewy and crispy since it’s shallow-fried in a pan until the edges are golden brown.

Because the ratio of batter vegetables generally stays the same, you can easily swap them for what you have on-hand. I’ve made kimchi pancakes, scallion pancakes, zucchini pancakes, kale pancakes—the list is pretty close to endless. Scour the back of your crisper drawer and fry up your own version.

Here’s how to make pajeon

Grab the vegetable of your choice and chop. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure recipe from here.

For scallions, slice one stalk in half lengthwise and chop into inch long pieces. For zucchini, shred one whole zucchini on a box grate and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. For broccoli or kale, chop up half a head into bitsy, quick-cooking pieces. For kimchi, chop a cup or two into bite sized pieces and save about 1 Tbsp. of kimchi juice for the batter.

With whatever vegetable I choose, I make sure to add about a ⅓ cup of something allium-y—thinly sliced ​​white onion, scallions, etc.

You should have around 1 ⅓ cups of your chopped vegetable mixture. For the batter, combine ½ cup of flour, ½ cup cold water, 1 tsp of saltand 1 tsp of sugar. Whisk together until no lumps remain. Add in the vegetable mixture and fold together.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Once the pan is hot, pour in the batter and spread it into a flat layer to make one large pancake—it’ll get the best texture when it’s thin. Cook on one side until golden brown, then flip the pancake. Let fully cook and then transport the pancake to a plate.

To serve, use kitchen shears or a knife to cut up the pancake into triangles, like how you’d slice a pizza. Make a quick dip of soy sauce with a splash of rice wine vinegar. Serve the pajeon hot with the dipping sauce, and enjoy a cleared conscience absolved of food waste.

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