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Here's The Fast And Easy $4 Dinner I've Been Making All Through Quarantine

Ten minutes, four ingredients — and a (very easy) recipe that my family has used for years.

Hi! My name's Victoria, and Korean pancakes (or jeon) have always been a staple in my life. Nearly every day after elementary school, I'd go to my grandparents' house in New Jersey, and my aunt would have Korean pancakes fresh off the pan, ready to go for me and my sister.

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

I'd tell my mom, aunt, and grandmother all about my day at school and watch some good ol' cartoons on the CRT TV in the kitchen (that's channel 41 for Nick and 72 for Cartoon Network) — all while tearing into stacks of fresh, crisp, chewy jeon.

Then, I went away to college in Los Angeles and didn't expect to eat it much. I was so wrong. Enter: K-town dive bars. My friends and I would never not order kimchi pancakes. It wasn't even a question at the table. And thus, my love for Korean pancakes lived on.

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

Also, lil' language sesh: Pa (파) means scallion, and jeon (전) is like a pancake (technically a food coated in flour then pan-fried). So you could make pajeon (파전), kimchi-jeon (김치전), or haemul (seafood) pajeon (해물파전), to name a few.

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Now, as a forcibly functioning adult, I make my own pajeon and kimchi jeon at home using my aunt's recipe (originally from my grandmother) whenever the mood** strikes. They're super affordable and simple to make. Here's how!

(*the mood includes the need for food and/or emotional comfort @2020. 🙃)

Start with the base: flour, water, and salt. Then add an ingredient for whatever type of jeon you're making. This time, I'm using ~scallions~ as an ode to my childhood.

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

Korean pancakes are pretty common, so if you want, there's pancake mix you can buy in place of the flour. You can get a Beksul (that's the brand) pancake mix from Amazon for $12.03. Or, if you've got an H-Mart nearby, add some Ottogi pancake mix to your cart for $3.99. They're both flour-based and include seasonings, so you don't have to.

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First, mix equal parts flour and water in a bowl. It should be runnier than your typical Mrs. Butterworth’s-style pancakes, so you may need to add some more water. Then, sprinkle in some salt.

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

Since I'm cooking for two, I did 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 cups of water. Then, I added roughly another ⅓ cup of water and mixed in 2 tsp of salt. This makes about two 8-inch pancakes!

As you whisk, the consistency should be between crêpe-level runny and pancake thick — with a leaning toward crêpe-level runny.

Next, chop up the scallions! You’ll have to cut the ends off first, ofc, but don’t mince them into tiny pieces. Keep ‘em a few inches long.

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

My market doesn't carry thin scallions, but those are preferable to the thicker ones (a la the pictures above). Around 10 stalks of scallion is fine for this portion! When you cut a piece of the pajeon to eat, the scallions will be cut accordingly, so don't worry about mincing them or anything. Oh, and make sure to wash them first.

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Then the cooking part: Turn your stove to medium-high heat, and grease your pan with vegetable oil. Toss the scallions into the pan. Let them fry a bit, then pour the mix over them in a thin layer.

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

Two to three tbsp of vegetable oil should be plenty. And as far as texture goes, jeon is supposed to be a lil’ chewy, a lil’ crispy — this ain’t IHOP with the fluff. So keep the layer thin when you pour.

Typically, if you're making something like seafood pancake, the jeon will be a bit thicker to hold together all the ingredients. Either way, it's expected to see the ingredients poking through the pancake.

Fry each side on medium heat until they're golden brown. I personally like mine pretty crispy (I'm the person who goes for the edges first), so I just wait until it's to my liking.

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

Tbh, this is usually the part where I'd mosey into the kitchen and watch my aunt, waiting for them to be freshly done! She'd have a few done and stacked on the side and be finishing up the last few.

Now, the pros can just flip it in the pan like an omelette. I, however, stand there and wiggle the spatula around the edges and hope for the best.

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When it's done, put it on a plate or cutting board. I'll also put a paper towel down to help absorb some of the oil.

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

And it's reaaaaaaady! Pro tip: have enough patience and don't burn your mouth. Wild, I know. You can go crispier than this — I'd even recommend it — but it all comes down to your preference.

P.S. My fam makes our dipping sauce by mixing soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and black pepper. To be fancy, you can toss in some sliced scallions and sesame seeds!

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

Yes, I use Kikkoman. Don't @ me, Sempio lovers. I mixed 4 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp of white vinegar, and 2 drops of sesame oil. Then you can sprinkle in some black pepper. I'm not a huge pepper fan, so I only do a pinch. The chopped scallion and sesame seeds are optional and more of a garnish, so you can eyeball that.

Look at that: barely five steps later — and it's ready to eat!!! Probably one of the simplest, quickest, and most affordable meals you could make for yourself. And it's delicious.

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

Like I mentioned earlier, jeon can be served as appetizers, snacks, or meals — it just depends on how much ya make!

The outside is crispy, the inside is chewy, and it's got a fresh, savory flavor thanks to the scallions (or kimchi or seafood!) and dipping sauce! You really can't go wrong. 😋

Victoria Vouloumanos / BuzzFeed

And as I'd answer my grandmother and aunt every time, "맛있어요!" (It's delicious!)

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