Korean Fish Pancake With Salad

Korean Fish Pancake (Korean Saengseon Jeon)

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Do you like seafood? What about Korean food? If so, try making this Saengseon jeon recipe! 

In Korea, during the hot summer monsoon season, people begin to crave makgeolli and jeon. Makgeolli refers to a type of Korean rice wine and jeon refers to a type of Korean fritter. As a nation, Koreans believe makgeolli and jeon are the perfect rainy weather food. As such, sales skyrocket when the monsoon season comes around in late June. People line up to eat at famous jeon restaurants until the monsoon season ends in August.  


One of my favorite types of jeon to eat during the summer months is saengseon jeon! Saengseon jeon is a generic term used to describe any type of Korean fritter made from fish.  Further, the term ‘haemul jeon’ includes saengseon jeon as well as jeon made from shellfish, shrimps, and octopuses. To make this Korean fish pancake, you pan fry fish coated in a flour and egg mixture until the fish is cooked through and the outside is crispy.

But first, before getting to the recipe, let’s learn about Korean jeon! 

Deliciously Pan Fried Cod. Served With Sangchu Geotjeori.
Deliciously Pan Fried Cod. Served With Sangchu Geotjeori.

What Is Korean Jeon?

In Korea, jeon refers to a savory type of fritter pancake. To make jeon, you start by preparing filling ingredients such as different types of vegetables, meats, poultry, and/or fish. You then coat the filling ingredients in a batter or flour mixture before pan-frying them in oil. 

Traditionally, you can coat the filling ingredients using two different methods: 

  • First, you can make a thin batter out of flour and ice water. You then mix in and incorporate the filling ingredients into the batter. Finally, you ladle out the amount of batter you need onto a hot pan or griddle. This batter will be slightly thinner than a pancake batter. 
  • Second, instead of making a batter, you use flour and eggs as an outside coating. For this method, you dip your filling ingredient, such as this post’s white fish, in dry flour. Then, you dip the same fish into whisked eggs. Once you successfully dip the filling ingredient in the flour and eggs, you pan fry them. This method is more similar to coating the outside of chicken before frying it. 

When Do You Eat Jeon?

Typically, people serve jeon as a banchan (side dish) or as an anju (drinking snack). 

Often, people consume jeon as a banchan during traditional family holidays such as Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). You will also see jeon served during ancestral rites in Buddhist families. 

Also, jeon is considered the perfect meal to consume when drinking Makgeolli, a traditional rice wine alcohol. If you visit South Korea, you will see many bars specializing in pairing different makgeolli with jeon! 

Jeon Fact: In Korea, people traditionally consume makgeolli and jeon on rainy days. So, know that jeon restaurants will be packed when the weather turns cloudy! 

A side shot of Korean fish pancakes. Served with kimchi and a dipping sauce.
Do You Like Fish?

Korean Fish Pancake Frequently Asked Questions:

Below, we listed some questions you may have about this Korean fish pancake (Korean saengseon jeon) recipe. If we do not answer your question below, feel free to leave a comment or email us at carvingajourney@gmail.com!

What Types of Fish Should I Use?

In Korea, people use fish with white flesh when making saengseon jeon. I recommend using fish such as cod or pollock! You can often find these two types of fish in the freezer section of a well-stocked grocery store. Or, you can find these in an Asian grocery store! 

Is This Korean Fish Pancake Free of Major Allergens? (Gluten, Soy, Dairy, Etc.)

This recipe does contain major allergens such as fish and eggs. Unfortunately, for those with a fish or egg allergy, I would avoid cooking this recipe altogether. 

Thankfully, for those with a gluten or wheat allergy, you can easily replace the wheat flour with gluten-free flour. Actually, as someone with celiac disease, I did all my recipe testing with gluten-free flour as well! 

For those who are vegetarian and vegan, this recipe is also not good for you to try. Instead of telling you to replace the ingredients, I recommend you try making different types of jeon such as pajeon (green onion pancakes) or gamja jeon (potato pancakes). These recipes will not contain any animal products! 

Saengseon jeon served with sangchu geotjeori.
Saengseon Jeon Served With Sangchu Geotjeori (Korean Lettuce Salad).

What Are Other Types of Jeon?

If you stop by a jeon restaurant in Korea, you will be astounded by all the options. Honestly, I cannot even list all the types here. Below, I listed a few of the most famous types of jeon. 

  • Kimchi Jeon: Kimchi Pancakes 
  • Pajeon: Green Onion Pancakes
  • Haemul Pajeon: Seafood and Green Onion Pancakes
  • Gamja Jeon: Potato Pancakes
  • Dubu Jeon: Tofu Pancakes
  • Hobak Jeon: Zucchini Pancakes

This is just a small list. There are over a hundred different types of jeon!!! 

Can You Make Jeon In Advance?

In my opinion, jeon tastes best when made right before serving. I like jeon best when served hot. That being said, people in Korea also like room temperature jeon. Often, when cooked at home, this dish is made in large batches. As a result, the jeon cooked first will naturally cool off. So, feel free to serve this recipe either hot or warm. 

I do not recommend making this recipe a few days in advance. Fish has a short shelf life. You do not want to accidentally serve fish that is no longer good! 

How Do I Store Leftovers? How Do I Reheat Leftovers?

If you have leftovers, place your Korean fish pancakes in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. These can be kept for 1-2 days in the fridge.

To reheat, heat a pan on the stove. Then, place the fish pancakes on the hot pan. You can either use a pan without oil or a pan coated with a tiny bit of oil. Too much oil will make the fish greasy and mushy. Once heated through, you can serve again! 

A side shot of Korean fish pancake.
Serve Jeon With Rice, Kimchi, and a Dipping Sauce!

We Hope You Enjoyed Learning About this Korean Fish Pancake (Saengseon Jeon) Recipe

In the end, we hope you enjoyed learning about this Korean fish pancake recipe. If so, let us know in the comment section below. Also, we would love to hear about your favorite types of Korean jeon!  

If you would like to read more about cooking, you can find further recipes on our blog. We listed some of our favorite Carving A Journey Korean recipes below! For reference, many recipes are influenced by our blended Korean and Southern heritage. 

Carving A Journey Korean Recipes:

If you have any questions or comments, you can also email us at carvingajourney@gmail.com.

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Korean Fish Pancake (Korean Saengseon Jeon)

Recipe by EmilyCourse: Entree, Side DishCuisine: KoreanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes

Ingredients

  • Saengseon Jeon
  • 2 Ibs White Fish, Such as Cod or Pollock

  • 2 Eggs

  • 1/2 Cup of Flour, Gluten-Free or Regular Flour

  • Sea Salt, By Taste

  • Black Pepper, By Taste

  • Oil, for Frying

  • Optional Jeon Dipping Sauce
  • 1 TBSP Soy Sauce

  • 1 TSP White Vinegar

  • 1/2 TBSP Water

  • 1/2 TSP Sugar

  • Pinch of Gochugaru (Red Pepper Powder)

Directions

  • First, take your fish out of the paper wrapping or plastic. With paper towels, pat the fish dry. Try to remove all the moisture.
  • Next, with a sharp knife, slice the fish into thin pieces. The fish should be thin enough to cook all the way through (approximately 1/4 inch thick). To make the thin slices, cut the fish at a 45° angle.
  • Sprinkle a bit of salt and black pepper over the pieces of fish. This helps to eliminate any overtly ‘fishy’ flavor.
  • Place the flour in a bowl. Then, crack the eggs into another bowl. Whisk the eggs until they are fully combined.
  • Heat your medium-sized pan on medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil to the pan. The oil should thinly cover the bottom of the pan.
  • While the oil heats up, coat both sides of your fish in flour. Then, dip the fish slices into the whisked eggs. Place the coated pieces of fish on the hot pan.
  • Cook each side of the fish jeon for 2-3 minutes or until it turns golden brown.
  • Once cooked, serve!**
  • Optional Dipping Sauce: Combine all the ingredients together in a small bowl and serve with the saengseon jeon.

Notes

Carving A Journey is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Although we may earn commissions for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website, these opinions are my own and I fully support these products. 

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