Saturday, February 7, 2009

Scallion Pancakes and Shrimp Fried Rice

Two dishes I never order from Asian restaurants anymore are scallion pancakes and fried rice as I find both are usually too greasy. So, if I ever get a hankering for either, both of which are quick and use ingredients I often have lying around, I have to make them at home. The pancake recipe below is for a version of Korean Pajeon, and not for scallion pancakes that are usually served at Chinese restaurants, which I found on David Lebowitz's site. My favorite part of the recipe is the egg that is swirled into the pan and cooked until the edges are crispy. I have made the Pajeon with cut-up shrimp with great success. The batter is a little thick, so make sure to nudge the batter all around the pan. I serve the Pajeon with a simple sauce of soy sauce with a touch of rice wine vinegar and sesame oil.

I can't say that I follow a set recipe for fried rice every time I make it or that my version is very authentic. I have made fried rice so often that I just tend to throw in whatever I have on hand and season to taste. However, I do recommend that you read this great post by Jaiden Hair of Steamy Kitchen on the Simply Recipes blog. Jaiden gives several useful tips on how to avoid making fried rice that is too mushy or goopy. One of her cardinal rules is to use day old rice, which I have to admit, I don't always do if I don't plan ahead. For my version, I use a lot of soy sauce, add some sambal oelek because I like the heat, add garlic and ginger, and use basmati rice because it is usually what I have on hand and because it is very close to jasmine rice.

Korean Pancake


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ice-cold water
1/2 tsp salt
1 large or extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 bunch of scallions
soy sauce
optional: cut up shrimp
oil, for frying
white wine vinegar
sesame oil


1. Stir together the flour, water and salt until just mixed.

2. Chop the green parts of the scallions into 3-inch lengths. Reserve the white parts for another use.

3. Heat a thin layer of oil in a 9 or 10-inch skillet, preferably non-stick, until hot. Fry the scallions until they're completely cooked through and soft. Add a touch of soy sauce to the pan when they're almost done, to season the scallions.

4. If using other ingredients, such as shrimp — add them now, then toss a few times to heat them through.

5. Pour the pancake batter over the scallions (and other stuff in the pan), spreading the batter, and cook a few minutes until the bottom is nice and brown underneath. Lift the edge to peek.

6. Pour the beaten egg on top then swirl the pan to even out the egg a bit, still keeping it pretty uneven, and cook until the egg is just beginning to firm near the edges.

7. Using a wide spatula, flip the pancake and cook for another minute or two until the egg is set and preferably crispy at the edges.

8. Slide pancake onto a cutting board, then cool to room temperature. Cut into six or eight wedges, and serve with dipping sauce made by mixing 3 parts soy sauce with 1-2 parts rice vinegar and a few drops of sesame oil. A bit of chile oil can also be added.

Makes one 9-inch pancake.

Shrimp Fried Rice


8 ounces small raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
3 eggs, beaten
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp grated ginger
2 stalks green onion, minced
3 cups leftover rice, grains separated well
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional; this ingredient is sometimes used in fried rice served at Indian Chinese restaurants)
soy sauce
sambal oelek
1 teaspoon sesame oil


1. Heat a wok or large sauté pan on high heat. When the pan is hot enough for a bead of water to instantly sizzle and evaporate, add just 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and swirl to coat pan.

2. Add the shrimp, quickly spreading out around the cooking surface area so that they are not overlapping. Add a touch of soy sauce to taste and stir fry until about 80% cooked through (the shrimp should have just turned pink). Remove the shrimp from the pan onto a plate.

3. Turn the heat to medium, let the pan heat up again. Add the eggs, stirring in a quick motion to break up and scramble the eggs. When the eggs are just cooked through, dish out of the pan into the same plate as the cooked shrimp.

4. Use paper towels to wipe the same wok or sauté pan clean and return to high heat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, swirling to coat. When the oil is very hot, add the green onions, garlic, and ginger and fry until fragrant. Add in the rice and stir well to mix in the garlic, ginger, and green onions throughout. Spread the rice all around the wok surface area and let the rice heat up, untouched until you hear the bottoms of the grains sizzle, about 1-2 minutes. Use the spatula to toss the rice, again spreading the rice out over the surface of wok.

5. Drizzle the soy sauce all around the rice and toss. Add the peas, the cooked eggs, shrimp, cilantro (if using), and sesame oil, tossing to mix the rice evenly with all of the ingredients. Let everything heat back up again. Taste and add sambal oelek and soy sauce to taste.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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