The scallion pancakes at Hanjan, Chef Hooni Kim's sophomore effort on the New York restaurant scene are unlike any pajeon you've ever had at a Korean restaurant. If you eat from the bottom up, it starts out like normal—a crisp, lacy pancake stuffed with scallions and squid. But as you move up, it burst out explosively into a craggly, tempura-like dome. Served with a gochujang-spiked dipping sauce, it's one of the most delicious things I've ever put in my mouth, and I could think of no way upon which it could be improved.
Until ramp season, that is.
I tweeted at Chef Kim a few weeks back:
Luckily, he liked the idea and took me up on it.
They're currently on the menu and available through the end of ramp season (which is rapidly approaching). Even after the season ends, the standard pancakes, made with tender squid, scallions, Chinese scallions, and horn peppers are worth the price of admission.
So how do they get those pancakes so damn tall and crisp? Through a combination of cooking methods. They start out in a skillet like a normal pancake, but as soon as the bottom is set, they're flipped on their heads into a large pan of hot oil so that their tops deep fry. It's an ingenious method. Check it out from start to finish in the slideshow above.
And see our full review of Hanjan here.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.