When it starts raining, without fail, my mind is auto-directed to seeking foods I'm supposed to eat on rainy days - slurp the hearty yet light soups like kalguksu (칼국수; noodle soup), potato sujebi (수제비; gnocchi soup) and bite into crispy, savory pancakes like scallion pancakes (파전; pa jeon) and mung bean pancakes (빈대떡; bin dae tteok) dipped in soy sauce. Not that I'm complaining about my set cravings for this rainy day repertoire.
Another kind of savory pancake that seems to be more reserved for homes than restaurants is chive pancake (부추전; bu chu jeon) which is made with garlic chives, also referred to as Chinese chives. The flavor of strong garlic chive is mellowed out in flour-egg batter and complimented with the crispy outside - soft inside contrast.
Instead of commonly used flour for the batter, or even easier pre-packaged batter mix, I used sweet rice flour (찹쌀가루; chap ssal ga ru or glutinous rice flour) to add tender-chewiness inside.
I also had some leftover baby beets - red, yellow and candy - from salad the other day, so I made use of them to brighten up the usually green spread.
To make chive pancakes for 3-4 people)
Optional Beet Garnish) Wash assorted beets (one of each kind is enough for this recipe) thoroughly in cold water. Peel the beets and slice them thinly. Using a small round cutter, cut out the shape. Keep the beet slices in cold water.
Combine 1 C water, 1 C sweet rice flour (mochiko or chapssal garu), 1/2 ts salt and a pinch of fresh ground pepper. Beat 1 egg and add to the batter.
Slice garlic chives finely to get about 1 C. Mix well into the batter.
On a well heated pan, drizzle 2 TBSP of sesame oil (use more oil as necessary). Turn down the heat to low. Drop a spoonful of the batter and shape it into a flat round. Place a few more pancakes without crowding the pan.
If you are using beets for garnish, quickly place a couple of beet slices on the chive pancakes before the upside starts cooking.
When the pancakes are almost cooked, i.e., edges turn crispy and pancakes have mostly turned from opaque to translucent, flip to the other side and cook for another minute. Transfer the pancakes to a plate with the beets side up.
Serve with a dipping sauce, soy sauce with a splash of fresh-squeezed lemon juice. It's so simple, but it adds a refreshing tone to fragrant chive pancakes. Toasted sesame seeds and a dash of chili powder (고추가루; go chu ga ru) optional.
garnish 고명 (go myeong)
batter/dough 반죽 (ban juk)