By Mina Kim
Spring is upon us and while lasting only a short time, rainy season will also arrive soon! An old Korean saying is that when it rains, eating “jeon” or “buchinjae” is best. Jeon/buchinjae is a savory Korean-style pancake that is quite easy to make. Perhaps you have had this before, perhaps you have not. Commonly called “chijimi” in Japan, you can find this at many izakayas around town and Korean restaurants if you live by one. Though not everyone lives in a big city in the JET programme, don’t let that stop you from trying this wonderful, simple recipe at home.
There are many types of buchingae in Korea, ranging anywhere from assorted seafood to just kimchee. A traditional buchingae usually consists of Chinese chives (にら) and green onions (長ネギ). Lucky for you, these ingredients costs no more than 100 yen at your local supermarket. If you live near a Yaoya, or a vegetable stand/shop, sometimes the chives cost only 50 yen.
The next thing you need is pancake powder that will hold everything together. Chijimi is very popular in Japan, so it should be available at any big-name supermarket (e.g. Universe, Yokomachi, AEON). It is also available at the international stores Jupiter and Kaldee. If you still cannot find it, the standard okonomiyaki powder should be a good substitute. I do not recommend using any western pancake mixes.
In a mixing bowl, mix 1 or 2 servings of the powder and water together as directed on the bag. The batter should be thick, like your average western pancake batter. If it is too thin, then add a bit more powder to the batter. Chives are naturally thin so you just need to cut them in 2 to 3-inch segments, but slice your green onions to make them thin. The ratio of batter to veggies should be about 1:1. You won’t need to worry about getting your fiber intake!
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can mix in loads of other vegetables such as zucchini or thinly sliced mushrooms. If you are a seafood lover, load it up with shrimp, squid, crab, scallops and more! Meat is not commonly used with buchingae but if you want to put some in, go for it! Please remember to slice it thin so that it cooks with the chijimi evenly, and to avoid the rumbly tumbly.
Get your biggest frying pan out on medium high heat and lather that bad boy with oil. Feel health conscious? Use olive oil. Don’t care? Your average vegetable oil will do. Don’t use sesame (goma)! PAM spray is also not ideal for this. When the pan is hot, scoop a ladle’s worth or two into the pan. Cook about 3 minutes on one side then flip. Repeat this process as you see fit or until you think it’s cooked all the way through! It should be golden brown or a bit darker. If you don’t use enough oil, it actually has a higher tendency to burn. Just drizzle some on the side after flipping if you think there isn’t enough.
My personal favorite is kimchi (surprise!) topped with cheese. After it is all done, cut it up with a knife or scissors and dip it in some soy sauce to enjoy your nice homemade meal!
spring onions (naganegi)
zucchini or any other veggie
Do you have any delicious dishes or local eateries you want to share? Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org!