Written by: Ben Phelps
Moim’s Korean seafood pancake (pajeon)
The crunchy exterior was hiding a light yet meaty interior filled with chopped scallions, shrimp and squid. The rice flour, a little sweet, moist and chewy best complimented the texture of the charred and briny seafood. Phew… I’m not even being overly dramatic when I say the dipping sauce made my eyes roll back a little bit. And thank the gods for that. It could have gone very differently.
“Hey Hippie! Toss me that hard, round plastic disk,” said no one ever in a Korean restaurant. So why is it that so many times, haemul pajeon (Korean pancakes filled with scallions and seafood) have the density and mouthfeel of a damn Frisbee? I always feel compelled to order one alongside my spicy bulgogi and short rib destined for the grill whenever we go out for Korean bbq. And, aside from a few stellar experiences, it is usually a decision I end up being fine with at best. So why even order it in the first place where the status quo is so meh? Well…. Much like the loved/loathed utility slice of pizza weighing the paper plate underneath with greasy mediocrity, even a pretty bad pajeon is a pretty good thing at the end of the day. When I checked out Moim in Brooklyn, I was hoping for a jump up from the status quo. What I ended up with was a pajeon that was such a leap away from the usual that I wondered if it was possible I had actually ordered another dish entirely.
As I said, the light and chewy texture is what struck me first – followed by salty and savory bites of seafood and crunchy scallions. Let’s be clear about one thing though: The mini-stroke inducing dipping sauce on the side is something I was blown away (and slightly puzzled) by. I could make out the flavors of dark soy, fish sauce, sesame seeds and chopped scallions in the ramekin. Could the secret really be that simple? Is this the ketchup/mayo/Thousand Island dressing “secret sauce” of the Korean culinary world? Whatever it is comprised of, I could use it a bazillion ways: pajeon dip to pasta sauce to pork chop marinade to shower gel… Crossing the line? Um…. I, uh…. Wouldn’t shower in it. Gross.
Now I’m ruined. The only time I order pajeon is at Moim in Brooklyn. I can’t bring myself to cheat on the perfect seafood scallion pancake. We’re entitled to our opinions, but we know there must be some amazing pajeon out there begging us to sink our teeth in. Leave us a comment and tell us about your favorite pajeon and why!
Moim is located at 206 Garfield Place in Brooklyn