Pajeon (Korean Scallion Pancakes)

When your mom already cooks the best Korean food you could ask for, and every day at that, you quickly learn to leave that stuff up to her. The results of this: I can make crêpes, chocolate soufflés, and an array of pastas, but I only learned to make rice a few months ago. Shameful? A little bit, yes. But this utter lack of knowledge in Korean cooking is what makes living off-campus so exciting. What foods I used to regard as mysterious, something that just magically appeared on my dinner table without me asking, are slowly starting to become part of my everyday meals.

For starters, I bring you pajeon, a Korean scallion pancake, made with flour, water, soybean paste and scallions, that you serve with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce. When I’m low on time, I whip this up in a quick 15 minutes for the perfect single-person weeknight meal. The recipe is open to other additions like red chili peppers and vegetables but I like to keep it simple.

Pajeon (Korean Scallion Pancakes)

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon soybean paste (dwenjang in Korean)
2 large scallions, sliced into thin strips

Directions:

1. Mix together the flour, water, sugar and soybean paste.

2. Heat up a pan with a little oil. Fry the scallions until they’re cooked through and soft, maybe even a little crispy around the edges.

3. Pour the batter evenly on top and spread it around a little. Cook until the bottom is crispy, then flip and cook the other side.

4. Serve with a sauce made with 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon white vinegar (or I used apple cider vinegar), a teeny pinch of sugar, chopped scallions, chopped red chili peppers and a big pinch of roasted sesame seeds. If you don’t have these ingredients, a simple soy sauce and vinegar mix is fine too.

Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul

I’ve caught the classic college student cold. The kind that stays with you for weeks and weeks, refusing to leave and insisting on making your life miserable. It’s like a bad house guest that overstays his welcome, except not by just a few extra days but a few very long months. You never should’ve let it come over, but you were careless and too busy to care. Long before you knew it, it settled in your apartment, leaving your trash can filled with tissues and depleting your supply of tea.

The only method I know of eliminating this pesky dilemma: homemade chicken noodle soup. It turns out there might be a legitimate science behind this mom’s favorite that shows chicken soup actually helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms. This happens by inhibiting the bodily migration of neutrophils, the most common infection-fighting white blood cells. The soup also helps increase the movement of nasal mucus and improves the function of protective cilia in your nose that prevent bacteria from entering. So the rumors are true, this stuff helps you get, or at least feel, better. Lucky for us sniffly, coughing students, chicken noodle soup is incredibly easy to make, especially if you already have some leftover chicken in the fridge like I did. Then, all you need is chicken stock, pasta and some basic vegetables before you have a cold cure-all waiting on your dinner table.

*I changed the ingredient proportions for this recipe, so photos below show a lesser broth to soup content ratio than this recipe will yield)

Serving Size: 2

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of any pasta, I used vegetable rotini
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (can replace with sweet potatoes, parsnips or turnips)
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
2 14.5 oz cans of chicken broth
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of shredded chicken breast (I used dark meat and it was fine)
Water for cooking pasta

Directions:

1. Boil pot of water and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat up chicken broth and water to a boil in medium pot and throw in carrots and chicken.

3. When carrots are starting to soften, lower heat to a simmer and throw in onions and red bell pepper. If using celery, this would be the time to add that too.

4. I had excess arugula in the fridge so I threw that in during the last minute after all the vegetables had become tender. While the arugula was cooking in and wilting, I tasted for salt and pepper. If the broth has reduced down too much, or it is too salty, add in 1/8 cup of water at a time until everything has adjusted to your taste. Add in pasta and simmer for another minute.

All the goodies simmering in the pot.

5. Serve and feel the icky sickness melt away.