I don’t think the word “Pancake” really represents what Jeons are. In fact there’re too many types of Jeons to be narrowed down to just one word. One thing they do have in common is the cooking method, it’s first coated with flour, dipped into egg wash, and then pan fried.
Wanja-jeon is a Jeon somewhat in between a patty and meatballs, and it’s actually a very traditional dish. We often make it on big feasts or holidays like Lunar New Year and Chuseok, especially for the ancestral rites. It’s more often called Dong-geu-rang-ttaeng in Korea, which derives from its round, coin like shape.
Traditionally it’s made with ground beef but I like to use a mixture of beef and pork, because ground pork usually has more fat content. But it’s not going to make a huge difference since the percentage of the meat in Wanja-jeon is quite low anyways. I use almost equal parts of meat and tofu, plus more chopped vegetables, and this way it will have a softer, pillowy texture.
INGREDIENTS (makes about 15 pieces)
250g ground beef or pork
200g tofu, half a package, moisture squeezed out
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk green onion, chopped
1/3 paprika or carrot, chopped
2 mushrooms, chopped
flour to coat
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp rice wine (optional)
Marinate the meat with minced garlic, rice wine and black pepper. Set a side and prepare all the other ingredients.
Squeeze out the moisture of the tofu in a cheese cloth. If you skip this step, it will be harder to form the patties.
In a big bowl combine meat, tofu, onion, green onion, paprika, mushroom, 1 egg yolk. Add 2 pinches of salt, some black pepper and mix thoroughly by hand. Knead the mixture well until it comes together. If you have time, let it chill in the fridge for a while.
Roll the mixture into small balls and coat them with flour. Prepare egg wash with rest of the white and one whole egg. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of water.
Put a non-stick pan on heat and coat with oil. While the pan is heating, dip few flour coated patties into the egg wash. Put the heat on medium high and add the patties into the pan. It’s best to do this step by hand because the patties are quite soft.
After placing a batch into the pan, press the patties gently with a spatula. Flip them when the cooked side turns light brown. When both sides look cooked, lower the heat and cook until patties are firm. This will take about 6-8 minutes. Wipe the pan and repeat with the remaining batches.
• Don’t be too stressed with a missing ingredient or the measurement. Feel free to use whatever is your fridge!
• If the mixture doesn’t come together add a tablespoon of flour.
• Make sure to get the pan heated so it’ll make a sizzle sound when you drop the patties. If the heat is too low there’s going to be liquid coming out of the patties and it’ll end up being dry.
• Don’t go too excessive with oil at first, but add more while cooking so the sizzling sound doesn’t stop!
• Serve with soy sauce. Add a bit of white vinegar into the sauce, preferably rice vinegar.