This recipe comes from Maangchi, who is my go-to Korean cooking expert. Pretty much everything I have ever made using her recipes have turned out well, and this was no exception. The funny thing is, there's really nothing about the recipe that indicates that it's Korean... or even Asian. Okay, maybe the sesame oil, which imparts an "Asiany" flavor. But if you left that out, it's really just made up of familiar, run-of-the-mill ingredients that aren't Asian in origin.
It couldn't be easier. Mix everything together, then fry for about two minutes on each side. Then viola! Delicious little tuna snacks that don't taste tuna-y. You know what I mean; canned tuna always imparts a very distinctive kind of tuna flavor... these pancakes don't have that. At least not while hot. I don't know what they'd taste like cold, as I ate them all too quickly. Maangchi says that this can serve as a cold appetizer, so I have no reason to doubt her.
I love that they don't have to be deep fried. While I love deep-fried foods, I don't like the mess of dealing with leftover oil at home. For these, you just use a tablespoon or two of canola oil, like you're going to stir-fry vegetables or make scrambled eggs. Easy peasy!
Maangchi's original recipe calls for a teaspoon of salt. This seemed really excessive to me, and in fact, in her own video at the end, after she tastes them, she admits they're on the salty side. She says it's fine because they're intended to be served with rice. Me, I just drastically cut the amount of salt called for and it was fine, especially because I didn't eat them with rice.
The dipping sauce she recommends for them is a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar -- she didn't specify what kind, but I used black. Soy sauce, black vinegar, and some hot chili paste is my go-to sauce for potstickers, and it worked just as well for these little snacks. However, I can also see myself leaving out the sesame oil, squeezing lemon juice over them, and dipping them in aioli.
Chamchijeon (Korean Tuna Pancakes) (adapted from Maangchi)
- 1 5oz can of tuna packed in water, drained
- 3 tbsp onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 1-2 tbsp canola oil, for frying
- Heat your pan on medium-high heat with the canola oil.
- Meanwhile, thoroughly mix together the rest of the ingredients. It should be fairly wet and stick together well. If it doesn't, add a little more oil or water.
- Divide the mixture into six portions. Drop by the spoonful into the hot pan, and gently shape them into rounds if you care about shape.
- When the bottoms are nicely browned, about 1-2 minutes, flip them over, pressing gently. Fry until browned as well, then eat immediately ... or not.