This Korean oyster pancake or ‘gul jeon‘ [굴전] recipe is a variation of the popular Hong Kong-style oyster pancake. The main difference is in the size! Hong Kong-style oyster pancakes are usually cooked as one large piece, but I’ve modified the size to create mini pancakes which makes them more manageable to cook and easier to share!
I’m using raw frozen oysters but you can also use fresh ones if they’re available. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly to get rid of all the sand and grit that usually comes with the oysters. I find that washing, rinsing, and draining them 3-4 times or until the water runs clear gets rid of the impurities. You can also check out my video at the bottom of the page to see how I like to clean the oysters.
To complement the oyster pancakes, I highly recommend that you enjoy this with my Korean pancake dipping sauce. Its chunky and savory flavor completes the entire pancake experience!
What are oysters?
Oysters are bivalve mollusks that are easily identified by their rough and irregularly-shaped shells. They’re usually found at the bottom of shallow bodies of water attached to the sides of big rocks. Their flavor can change depending on where they’re gathered, that’s why you’ll sometimes eat bland or salty batches.
It’s always ideal to get oysters fresh and alive but if you can’t find any reliable sources, canned or frozen are also good alternatives. Oysters can be eaten raw with a squeeze of lemon, but they should be the freshest and of the highest quality before consumption. For a cooked oyster dish, they can taste great on soups, stews, and chowders but you can also grill, bake, or pan-fry them for a more intense flavor.
Oysters are an affordable and common ingredient in Korea which is why they’re often added to soups, porridge, rice, and even pan-fried dishes like these oyster pancakes!
Hong Kong vs Korean Oyster Pancakes
As mentioned earlier, this recipe is inspired by Hong Kong-style oyster pancakes. Aside from their size, both pancake recipes actually differ in terms of flavor. Korean oyster pancakes have a savory and salty flavor profile, while Hong Kong-style pancakes taste more intense because they’re seasoned with fish sauce. The dipping sauces are also quite different because the Korean version has a soy sauce base, while the Hong Kong style has a fish sauce base.
Hong Kong-style oyster pancakes are more similar to oyster omelets, where they share almost the same ingredients including potato starch and egg. Hong Kong-style oyster pancakes are usually sold in the streets of Hong Kong and Taiwan, where they’re a well-loved street food staple.
While Korean oyster pancakes may be enjoyed any time of the year, they’re best prepared in the late fall to spring during the “oyster season” in Korea. That’s when the oysters are plump and abundant for harvest, so you can have as many servings as you want. The great thing about using frozen oysters is that you can make this year-round.
Hot and Savory Korean Oyster Pancakes
When you think of pancakes, you’re probably picturing the sweet and fluffy pancakes that are drizzled with maple syrup and served for breakfast. But this savory pancake is a lovely surprise that will open up your eyes to the world of Korean seafood pancakes. If this is your first time learning about oyster pancakes, it might seem odd to add oysters as the main ingredient but I promise it works!
Don’t forget to make the pancake dipping sauce! The combination of soy sauce, garlic, and gochugaru create a perfect harmony of umami flavors that goes well with the oyster pancakes.
And if you want to take it one step further, oyster pancakes are usually enjoyed with a glass of makgeolli or sparkling Korean rice wine. They go together like chicken and beer, steak and wine, margaritas and tacos – you get the point.
How do I prepare Korean Oyster Pancakes?
If you enjoy the process of making pancakes from scratch, you’re going to like this unique recipe. To create my Korean Oyster Pancakes, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Wash the oysters
Place the oysters in a bowl and fill it with water until they’re completely submerged. Then, add 2 tsp of salt and mix together. Let this sit for 10 to 15 minutes to purge any impurities and sand from the oysters.
Step 2: Chop the ingredients
While waiting for the oysters to soak, chop the scallion and long green peppers into small pieces, then set aside.
Step 3: Drain the oysters
After 10 to 15 minutes, scoop the oysters out of the bowl with your hands and place them into a strainer. Pour out the water from the bowl and place the oysters back in. Rinse them with water and repeat the steps 3 to 4 times or until the water turns clear.
Pro-tip: you don’t want to dump the water out while the oysters are still in the bowl otherwise, the sand will be redistributed back into the oysters.
Step 4: Mix the ingredients
In a large bowl, add the drained oysters, scallions, peppers, eggs, water, and frying mix. Gently stir until they’re incorporated, but remember not to tear the oysters.
Step 5: Cook the pancakes
In a pan, pre-heat oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, scoop about ¼ cup of the oyster batter to make one small pancake. You can add as many pancakes as you can fit into the pan.
Cook each pancake for 2-3 minutes on each side or until they turn golden brown.
Step 6: Make the sauce
To make the sauce, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, gochugaru, garlic, and scallion in a small bowl, then mix well.
Step 7: Serve!
Once the pancakes have all been cooked, arrange them on a plate and serve with the spicy pancake dipping sauce on the side. Enjoy!
Cooking Tips for Korean Oyster Pancakes
These Korean Oyster Pancakes aren’t complicated to cook, but here are a few tips to help you make the best savory pieces:
- When draining the oysters, avoid pouring them directly out of the bowl because this will also bring the accumulated sand and grit with them.
- When cooking, make sure to pour the pancake batter a few inches apart from each pancake to prevent them from sticking to each other once they’re cooked.
- Oysters contain water content which can cause them to splatter when cooking in hot oil. Have a lid or splatter screen on standby in case things get crazy!
Oysters: If you can’t find oysters for this recipe, you can substitute them with any shellfish including mussels, scallops, squid, and octopus.
Frying mix: You can find the frying mix (twigim garu) at your local Korean supermarket, like H Mart. But you can also make your own by using a 2:1 ratio of cake flour and rice flour.
Gochugaru: Gochugaru or Korean red chili flakes is a blend of unique sweet and spicy flavors. While it’s not recommended, if you can’t get a hold of gochugaru, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or paprika can work.
Where to buy oysters?
You can buy oysters at the grocery store or seafood markets. But in Korean markets, you can find a bag of frozen oysters without their shells, which makes them easier to use in a variety of dishes.
If you don’t need to cook them within the same day, you can store them in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Since oysters can freeze well, you can buy them in bulk and thaw out small portions whenever you need to cook them.
Can you reheat this recipe?
I don’t recommend reheating these pancakes since the oysters will turn rubbery when overcooked. These pancakes are best when cooked tableside and enjoyed fresh.
What other dishes can you serve with Oyster Pancakes?
While these oyster pancakes are delicious and sufficient on their own, here are some of my favorite dishes to enjoy these pancakes with!
1. Seafood pancake – if you can’t get enough of this savory pancake dish, you might want to give my Korean Seafood Pancake recipe a try!
2. Dumplings – there’s nothing better than a side of crispy fried dumplings to enjoy with these oyster pancakes and dipping sauce. I think the dipping sauce would be delicious with my Japchae Dumplings recipe!
3. Soup – if you want something to warm you up, my Korean Fish Cake Soup or Korean Mussel Soup will get the job done. It’s comforting and packed with seafood flavors so you can turn this into a complete seafood feast!
4. Kimchi – sometimes all you need is a side of kimchi and my Fresh Geotjeori Kimchi would be perfect with these pancakes! Fresh kimchi is not as salty as regular kimchi so you don’t have to worry about the kimchi overpowering the flavors in this dish.
5. Tteokbokki – this is one of the most popular Korean street foods and would pair deliciously with oyster pancakes! Check out my Tteokbokki recipe!
6. Steamed Eggs – Korean Steamed Eggs or gyeran-jjim is a side dish that’s always welcomed to the dining table. It’s a classic side dish commonly served at Korean BBQ restaurants but the simplicity of this recipe makes it easy to make at home!
I hope you give these a try and if you do – be sure to let me know how they turned out!
Korean Oyster Pancake [Gul Jeon]
- 2 package oysters raw and frozen (500g)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 chopped scallion reserve 1 tbsp for sauce
- 1/2 long green pepper finely diced
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup frying mix see note for substitution
- 4 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tbsp gochugaru Korean red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp chopped scallion
- Place the frozen oysters in a bowl and fill it up with water until completely submerged. Add 2 tsp salt and mix together. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes to clean the oysters before cooking.
- Chop the scallion and long green peppers. Set aside.
- When the oysters are ready to be drained, scoop the oysters out of the bowl with your hands into a strainer. Do not pour the oysters directly onto the strainer from the bowl. This will prevent the sand and grit on the bottom of the bowl from getting onto the oysters. Place the drained oysters back into the bowl and rinse with water. Repeat this process 3-4 times or until the water is clear. Drain well.
- In a large bowl, add the drained oysters, scallions, peppers, eggs, water, and frying mix. Gently stir and mix well, making sure not to tear the oysters.
- In a pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add about 1/4 cup of the oyster batter to make one pancake. Add as many pancakes as you can fit into your pan.
- Cook the pancake for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
- Serve immediately with the pancake dipping sauce!
- In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, gochugaru, garlic and scallion in a small bowl. Mix together well.
- You can find the frying mix (twigim garu) at your local Korean supermarket like H Mart. Alternatively, you can make your own mix by using a 2:1 ratio of cake flour and rice flour.
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