Making Jeon

Jeon

Jeon refers to Korean food that is cooked slowly in a frying pan,usually lightly coated in flour and dipped in egg, but not always.  You can have seafood jeon, different vegetable jeon, and a special meat pattie one that I will blog about separately.

Usually, when Korean people get together for a special occasion, whether it be sad or happy, different kinds of jeon always decorate the table.  Making jeon is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years, and Korean women have all slaved away in front of a hot pan making dozens of different jeons, at one point or another.

Today, I’ll make two different kinds of jeon that are easy and delicious.  Squash jeon (hobak jeon) is a classic, often seen as a banchan for a weekday dinner.  Another one is a skwerer jeon (sanjuk jeon), which traditionally uses beef and vegetable skewers, but I’ve made easier by using luncheon ham.

Squash Jeon (Hobak Jeon)

  • 1 Korean ae-ho-bak
  • Salt to season
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 1 beaten egg with a tablespoon of water
  • Some vegetable oil
  • Red chili pepper and a jalapeno, thinly sliced

I used Korean ae-ho-bak, which is a smaller, miniature squash that is available at Korean markets.  You can use regular squash or zucchini if you can’t find the Korean ae-ho-bak.

First, slice the squash.  Don’t make it too thin since you want it to have some bite, but not too thick since it will take too long to cook.  I cut them into about 1/3inch thickness.

Sprinkle salt all over the sliced squash and let it sit for about 20 minutes.  This step draws the fluid out of the squash and seasons the squash. 

After you’ve let it sit for about 20 mintues or longer, use a paper towel and pat the squash dry.  Then coat each slice lightly with flour and then dip into the prepared egg.  If you like a little saltiness, you can add a pinch of salt into the beaten egg as well (optional).

Heat a pan and add couple tablespoons of vegetable oil.  When the pan is nice and hot, add the squash.  After you’ve added the squash, lower the heat to medium low.  After about 5 mintues, add the jalapeno slices on top for garnish then flip.  Be careful when you flip so that the chili pepper stays in the middle of the jeon (I use chopsticks).  The chili pepper is mostly for garnish, but it does add a little spice to the jeon as well. 

You should see a nice golden color on the squash.  Continue to cook on medium to low heat so that you don’t burn the chili peppers, another 5 mintues or so.  Remove from the pan and you are done!

Sanjuk Jeon

Sanjuk is traditionally a skewer made up of marinated beef slices and vegetables.  I did a simplified version with imitation crab, luncheon ham, and vegetables, and while not as delicious as my mom’s, it is waaaay easier. (You can refer to the picture above to see the picture of ingredients)

  • 1 luncheon ham, sliced into ½ inch by 3 inch rectangles
  • Imitation crab, cut into 3 inch length
  • Green onion, cut into 3 inch pieces
  • ½ bell pepper, cut into 3 inch pieces
  • Some flour for coating
  • 1 beaten egg with a  tablespoon of water

Using a toothpick, spear the ingredients together.  It should be nice and compact.  If you want, you can add different vegetables, such as carrots, pickled radish, etc.

Carefully coat with flour and dip into the egg.  The skewers can come apart, so be gentle.

Place gently into a hot pan with oil and let it cook on medium to low heat.  It might be hard to coat evenly all the way around, but that is ok.  As long as you have some flour and egg coating, the skewers should turn out delicious.

The reason this version is so much easier is because everything is ready to eat, and you are just giving it some extra flavor.  You don't have to marinate the beef, and you don't have to worry about if it is cooked through or not. After a few minutes on one side, check to see if there is a nice golden color and then flip.  Cook for another few mintues.  Another banchan finished!

These two dishes are easy enough to make on a weekday, and it gives you a little sample of what Korean jeon is all about.  You can make a little dipping sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, sesame seeds, and chopped onion, but that is optional.  I usually eat this as a banchan with rice and kimchi, so I prefer it without too much sodium.

Enjoy!

Tip:

  1. Be careful not to have the pan too hot.  The key to making yummy jeon is to cook it slow and steady so that you don’t burn the outside while cooking the inside.  As my mom have said, impatient people can not make jeon.  I'm on the impatient side, but I've learned to control it if there is a yummy reward at the end.
  2. Cleaning the oil in between batches allow for better looking jeon.
  3. It tastes the best when it’s fresh off the pan!  Once it cools it isn’t as good, but it is often eaten after it cools down a bit.

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