Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chamchijeon - Korean Tuna Pancakes

I was waiting for my son's Tae Kwon Do class to be done last week when I smelled a faint tuna fish odor in the air- it was coming from the Master's office. As I had to pay my bill, I was headed that way, anyway. I entered and saw the Master and his assistant ( they are both native born Koreans ) eating these flat, grilled cakes. They put the food aside, I paid my bill - and I couldn't help but ask about what they were eating. 

The Master explained his wife had made him chamchijeon (cham-chi-jon ) - a small fried tuna fish cake. As I'm always looking for new ways with tuna fish. I was instantly intrigued - and saw the possibilities of tweaking the recipe I found online.  Don't shy away from these because they are lightly fried in oil. You aren't deep fat frying them - but lightly browning them in a few teaspoons of canola oil. 

I would use high quality solid white tuna for this; the expensive stuff. Lower quality tuna tends to have a really unappetizing odor when heated, which solid white albacore does not have.  

Note: the sesame oil is an important ingredient to the taste profile, so if you don't have any, hold on on making this until you can get some. It is easily purchased from the "Asian" section of your grocery store.

Here's a fun little video of a woman with crazy pink hair making chamchijeon. Pretty easy! 


Ingredients (for 2-3 servings):

1 can of tuna - solid white (5 oz: 142 grams)

ground black pepper,
sesame oil
1 organic egg
whole wheat flour
canola oil

  1. Strain out the liquid from a can of tuna and place it in a bowl
  2. Add ¼ cup chopped onion, 1 minced garlic, 1tsp salt, ¼ ts ground black pepper, 1 eggs, 1 tsp sesame oil, choppedchives and 2 tbs flour to the tuna and mix it well.
  3. Heat up a non-stick pan and spread 1-2 tbs canola oil.
  4. Scoop a spoonful of the tuna mixture with a spoon and place it on the heated pan.
  5. Press slightly and round the edges with the spoon.
  6. Make 6 small size pancakes with the tuna mixture.
  7. When the bottom is cooked golden brown, turn it over and cook until both sides of the pancakes are golden brown. Total cooking time is 3-5 minutes.
  8. Transfer the cooked pancakes to a serving plate and serve with rice.