Hooni Kim’s Recipe for Pan-Fried Seafood Scallion Pancake
For a quick meal or crowd-pleasing snack, chef Hooni Kim offers a streamlined version of the crisp-fried seafood scallion pancake he serves at Hanjan in Manhattan
By Kitty Greenwald in the Wall Street Journal
The Chef: Hooni Kim
His restaurants: Danji and Hanjan, both in New York City
What He’s Known For: Deceptively simple, masterfully executed Korean cooking, both traditional and modern
NOT EVERYONE returns to his roots via Michelin-starred kitchens. But that’s how it happened for Hooni Kim. The Korean-born chef came to New York City in 1982, at the age of 10, but didn’t start cooking his native cuisine until he had already graduated from culinary school and worked under some of the city’s pre-eminent chefs.
By age 32, Mr. Kim was at Masa, the celebrated Japanese restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. “The chef loved Korean food, so I made it for [the staff] meal three times a day,” he said. “Some of the dishes on my menus still come from back then.” Cooking Korean on the fly for discerning chefs, Mr. Kim applied equal parts improvisation and technical know-how—a combination that distinguishes his food even today.
Take this squid, scallion and scallop pancake, his first Slow Food Fast contribution. Like the deep-fried version at his restaurant Hanjan, it is thick, multi-textured, briny and just a little bit sweet. But this one is pan-fried, as it’s done at his other restaurant, Danji. “To get the pancake extra crisp, the batter must be very cold,” the chef said. “That way, when it hits the hot oil it immediately fries and gets really crispy.” Still, that improvisational spirit prevails; Mr. Kim isn’t one for fussy recipes at home. “Even if you don’t fry this right,” he promised, “it will still be good.”
Pan-Fried Seafood Scallion Pancake
Total Time: 30 minutes Serves: 4
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup club soda
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon mirin rice wine
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 medium fresh squid, tentacles and body separated, cleaned and cut into bite-size pieces
- ½ pound bay scallops
- 2½ bunches scallions, white and light green parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, club soda, garlic, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sugar and egg yolk. Season with salt and pepper. Chill batter in freezer while preparing remaining ingredients. (If holding longer than 10 minutes, transfer to refrigerator.)
2. Make dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together remaining soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin and sesame oil. Set sauce aside.
3. Stir squid, scallops and scallions into chilled batter.
4. Set a medium nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Once oil is very hot and shimmering, ladle in ½ the pancake batter and spread evenly across pan. Sear pancake until browned on bottom and crisp at edge, 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook until reverse is browned and center is cooked through, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining batter and oil.
5. Cut pancakes into quarters and serve with dipping sauce.