If you are a beginner who just start to learn about Korean food then pajeon is probably one of the very first dishes that you get to try along with other popular dishes such as bulgogi and bibimbap.  Pajeon, or seafood pancake, is one of those classic Korean dishes that is enjoyed by so many. It’s simple, tasty, and has been around for many years.

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Dongnae-style pajeon served on brass plate

History tells that the famous Dongnae Pajeon, a regional style originated from Dongnae district of Busan, was presented on royal dining table back in Joseon Dynasty. It was first introduced to general public in 1930s when the neighbourhood of Dongnae was filled with taverns and bars serving government officials. The popular recipe then spread amongst merchants of Dongrae marketplace where the workers and peasants began to enjoy what was once only presented on royal tables.

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Soft rice-flour batter with scallions and fresh seafood. Mmmm
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Traditional interior with open kitchen

The pancake filled with scallions and fresh seafood is finished by a crack of an egg. Personally, I was surprised by how soft the batter was. It was almost too mushy for my taste and certainly not like any seafood pancakes that I have tried before. Until then, I was more familiar with thin, crispy crust of seafood pancakes. It seems the softness comes from the watery batter made with rice flour. I did enjoy the abundance of seafood and green onions. They use the skinny chive-like scallions instead of regular Korean green onions and the chunkiness of them balanced out the texture of smooth batter.

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No seafood pancake is complete without the accompaniment of dongdongju, or traditional Korean rice wine. Unlike makgeolli, dongdongju has rice grains at the bottom of the pot.  The thick rice wine goes great with not only the pancake but small side dishes as well. The small, delicate rice cakes were my favourite. It was nice and chewy and had both sweet and savoury flavours.

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The place we went was one of the oldest and most well-known pajeon places in Dongnae called Dongnae Halmae Pajeon. I could see that they did a massive renovation of the restaurant as the building was fresh and clean. I would have enjoyed the atmosphere of original, old shack but experiencing the famous dongnae pajeon in fine-dining setting was also a worthwhile experience.