These two quick and delicious pan-fried recipes make the most of garden or farmers’ market fare, including all the green tops of vegetables like green onions and garlic or even carrot tops, celery leaves and dill fronds. I discovered these recipes when my co-author, Seung Hee Lee, and I were developing and testing recipes for our cookbook, “Everyday Korean.” Inspired by jeon, these crispy, savory pancakes will satisfy a craving on a rainy day; the sizzling sound when the batter hits the hot skillet mimics the music of raindrops, perfect for this soggy month of August.
Both are easy to make, and these small bites satisfy for anytime snacking or to fry up when dinner is running late: Best consumed hot and perfect to feed hungry folks hanging out in the kitchen. Typically served with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce, but if you want to add a kick of heat, try a pinch of gochugaru — Korean red pepper — or ground cayenne in the batter or serve with your favorite chile paste. If you have one available, use a heavy-bottomed pan, such as a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Chablis or cold sparkling bubbly pair well, or taste with your favorite ale. Both recipes have been adapted from the “Everyday Korean” cookbook. — Kim Sunée
Green Onion and Green Garlic Pancakes (pajeon)
Depending on what’s on hand, perhaps add in some chopped kale or other hardy leaves and stems, like turnip and collard or dill stocks and fronds, and a few sliced jalapeños for some heat.
Makes 4 to 6 servings as an appetizer
2 bunches whole green onions — the green parts — or combination of green onions and chives (7 to 9 ounces/about 3 cups packed)
2 bunches whole green garlic — the green parts — or chopped kale, turnip greens, finely chopped green beans, cauliflower, or asparagus (1 to 2 cups packed)
2 cup all-purpose flour or rice flour, plus more as needed
1 3/4 cups warm water, plus more as needed
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 jalapeño, stemmed and cut into thin slices (optional)
1 teaspoon fish sauce or 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Oil for pan frying, such as olive, sunflower, avocado, or grapeseed; duck fat or beef tallow
*Soy-Vinegar Dipping Sauce or hot chile paste, for serving
• Wash, trim and pat dry green parts of green onion and garlic. Cut into 2-inch long pieces and then into thin matchsticks and add to a large bowl. Add garlic greens or other vegetables. Add flour, water, egg, and fish sauce (or salt). Mix to combine. Note: It’s best to use your hands and to not overwork the batter; set aside. The consistency should be a fritter-like batter — chunky with ingredients and a barely-there binder. If too wet, add a bit more flour, and if too dry, add a bit more liquid.
• Pour enough oil to coat bottom of an 8-to-10-inch skillet by about a quarter inch — about 2 tablespoons depending on size of skillet — set over medium-high heat; the oil should dance and shimmer but not smoke. Test by adding some flour or a piece of bread, which should sizzle and brown quickly. When oil is hot, scoop one half of the batter into the very hot skillet and press down with the back of a spoon or spatula to make an even pancake. When bottom turns golden brown, about three minutes, flip and press gently with the spatula. If some of it falls apart, just push ingredients together. Note: You can cover the pancake with some foil and set a heavy pot over the pancake for a few minutes to flatten and crisp evenly. Cook, adjusting heat as needed, for another three to four minutes or until crispy around the edges and golden all over; let cool slightly on a cooling rack or wood cutting board. Slice with a knife or kitchen shears into wedges before serving. Serve with soy-vinegar dipping sauce or favorite hot chile paste. Reheat any leftovers in a hot skillet, no need to add additional oil.
*Combine 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce and 1/4 cup rice vinegar (or cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar) in a bowl. If desired, stir in one teaspoon sugar, some chopped green onion and toasted sesame oil.
Originally this recipe calls for fresh raw oysters — or scallops or pieces of white fish — or almost anything you would fry in a light batter. But with all the summer squash available this time of year, this same method works wonders to highlight slices of zucchini, or, later this fall, acorn squash and pumpkin.
2 zucchini or yellow squash (about 1 pound), sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• Pat dry zucchini slices; set aside. Place flour in a shallow plate, and eggs in a large shallow bowl. Heat oil in a medium heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat.
• When oil is hot (not smoking but starting to dance around; test oil, if desired, by adding a pinch of flour or a small breadcrumb, which should sizzle and brown almost immediately), dredge zucchini slices, one at a time, in flour, then dip in beaten egg, and add to hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes or when bottoms start to turn golden brown. Gently flip and cook other side another minute. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and serve at once with soy-vinegar dipping sauce.