William Dissen, of The Market Place and Billy D’s Fried Chicken in North Carolina takes a simple approach to a light and savory sweet potato and scallion pajeon. A pajeon is a Korean recipe for a savory vegetable pancake that incorporates julienned carrots, chopped scallions, and slow-roasted sweet potato as the filling. Dissen serves his with a soy dipping sauce that features sweet honey, tangy rice wine vinegar, nutty sesame oil, and aromatic garlic, all simmered into a silky sauce rich with umami flavor.
The pajeon consists of flour, cornstarch, and eggs act as binding agents for the vegetables, but Mountain Valley Sparkling Spring Water is the unexpected hero, leavening the pajeon into a fluffy, airy pancake. Dissen expresses his appreciation for Mountain Valley’s intentionality toward their sourcing, packaging, taste, and environmental impact. Chefs from all across the South share this same sentiment for maintaining a small footprint, but big flavor. As the pajeon sizzles, Dissen adds more of the vegetable mixture into the batter and watches as the bubbles creep into the center. Much like a buttermilk pancake, these bubbles are a telling sign that it is time for a flip.
Once the pajeon is cooked through, you should be able to insert a butter knife and remove it without any batter. Drizzle with the savory soy sauce and top with fresh herbs and remaining julienned carrots.
2 10 inch pancakes
⅓ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 sweet potato, cooked, diced
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
8-10 ounces Mountain Valley Sparkling Spring Water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1 clove garlic, grated
For the dipping sauce
For the pajeon
For the Dipping Sauce:
- Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce into a small sauce pan, and place the pan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring from time to time, and reduce to medium low heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced slightly and thickened.
For the Pajeon:
- Cut the scallions in to 1 inch pieces, and julienne the carrots.
- Cut the sweet potato into a medium dice, and using the back of a pan, smash the cooked sweet potato.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg, grated garlic, and sparkling water. Stir the mixture until it is just combined. Fold in ½ of the scallions and carrots.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a 10 inch nonstick sauté pan, or cast iron skillet, over medium heat.
- When the oil is beginning to shimmer, pour in half of the batter so it spreads to the edge of the pan. Scatter ½ of the remaining scallions, carrots, and smashed sweet potatoes over the batter. Use the back of the spatula to ensure they are submerged in the batter.
- Cook the pajeon for 4 to 5 minutes, until the pajeon is golden brown and the vegetables are also golden. Flip the pajeon and cook another 4 to 5 minutes on the other side. Transfer the pajeon to a sheet tray, or plate, lined with paper towels.
- Add the remaining oil to the pan and repeat the process with the remaining half of the batter and vegetables.
- Slice the pajeon into pieces and serve with the warm dipping sauce.
Recipe ByWilliam Dissen
Contributing RestaurantThe Market Place Restaurant