Everyone wants a piece of the pie or in this case, 파전 pa-jeon – Korean pizza and at 2,000 won ($2.50) a piece, you’d be hard pressed to find a tastier street food this filling. A basic pa-jeon, 파 ‘pa’ meaning spring onion and 전 ‘jeon’ meaning pancake is made from Korean spring onions, batter and eggs. Mixed together then fried in oil on a hot plate, they’re crispy golden brown outside and squishy inside. Equivalent to a fritter, other ingredients are added to create different types of jeon; Kimchi (fermented spiced cabbage) jeon, buchu (Chinese chives) jeon, hae-mul (seafood) pa-jeon, gam-ja (potato) pa-jeon are all commonly devoured.
Story time from Bobby:
These mobile food vans are illegal; they’re not paying rent or tax but the government let it slide because these people can’t get employment elsewhere (age, skills). They’re a cheap start-up, rent free and cheap ingredients so they can make money to survive. Some have monopolised and own a few vans and tents and hired workers so they’re making big money.
This ahjumma (name given to middle-aged/married women) and halmonie(grandmother) duo had prime parking with their food van at the cross-section, just near the subway entrance/exit. The colder the weather, the better food smells, the more people food vans can lure. The halmonie mixed, flipped and fried while the ahjumma took orders, they were on a roll and had their system down pat. The food was served within five minutes steaming hot and fresh off the plate.
Bobby ordered the Kimchi jeon and Buchu jeon + a cup of sweet rice water for 5,000won. The pancake is cut up and slapped on a plastic plate covered with a plastic bag so you can take whatever you don’t eat home. I don’t know if it was because I was cold but this one was, in the words of French chef Manu Feildel “to die fawh”. Fresh, crispy, salty and hot, the chives wilted from the heat, the kimchi retaining a slight crunch. The photos don’t do justice on the epic size of these pancakes. Dipped in soy sauce it tastes even better. Umami rocks.
When it rains, many Koreans get nostalgic and yearn to eat pa-jeon and drink makgeolli (Korean rice wine). This blog, ‘Crazy Korean Cooking’ lists a few reasons why a rainy day is perfect for eating and drinking these favourites, http://crazykoreancooking.com/foodandculture/why-do-koreans-eat-pajeon-and-drink-mageolli-rainy-day. Next time it rains, go get pa-jeon or make your own.
If you pass these food vans on the street, try them out, they’re too cheap and delicious not to.
Happy eating – Chan and Bob
집으로 가는 길 전천에서 내려 서울대입구역 7,8번 출구에 들려 파전을 먹었습니다. 파전은 하나당 2천원으로 상당히 저렴한 가격에 식혜는 한컵에 천원. 감자전, 부추전, 김치전, 해물파전이 메뉴로 있으며 가격은 동일한 걸로 기억합니다. 맛도 엄청 좋은데다가 요즘 날씨가 부쩍 추워지고 있는데 이 뜨거운 파전을 호호 불어 먹으니 포만감도 느끼며 몸이 따뜻해짐을 느꼈습니다. 역시 겨울이 다가오는 이맘때쯤은 이런 포장마차의 따뜻한 음식을 지나갈 수 없더라구요.
널찍한 팬 위에 부친 전들은 겉은 바삭하고 안은 부드러워서 식감이 아주 좋았구요. 손님들이 줄을 서서 저희도 잠깐 기다려야했는데요, 아주머니 두분께서 팀플레이가 어찌나 좋으시던지 그 많은 전들을 착착 부쳐내시더라고요.
한국인은 비가오는 날에는 막걸리에 파전을 많이들 먹습니다. 여러분의 나라에는 이러한 문화가 있나요? 제 와이프 말에 따르면 호주엔 이러한 문화가 없다고 합니다. 길거리에서 이런 포장마차를 보시면 한번쯤은 들려보세요, 대부분 가격도 저렴하고 맛도 좋습니다.^^