Wanjajeon (Pan-fried Meatballs in Egg Batter)

Next Monday, September 8, is Chuseok (Korean harvest/mid-autumn festival). Most Korean homes make several types of jeon dishes (pan-fried battered food) for their holiday feast. Wanjajeon is among the popular choices. Meatballs are called gogi wanja in Korean and used in many traditional dishes such as soups or hotpots. When they are egg-battered and pan-fried, they are called wanjajeon. They are also commonly called donggeurangddaeng, meaning a round thing.

To make jeon, the meatballs are gently pressed into mini patties. I prefer to use a mixture of beef and pork, but you can also use all beef or all pork. To achieve a smooth texture, take extra time to finely chop the vegetables and mix all the ingredients very well by hand. The meat patties can be prepared ahead of time and pan-fried on the day of serving. Enjoy it on your Chuseok table or simply as an appetizer or side dish with any meal.

wanjajeon 1

1 pound ground beef (or combination of beef and pork)
4 to 6 ounces tofu, squeezed and crushed
1/2 medium onion
1/2 medium carrot
2 scallions
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper to taste
3 eggs, beaten well
1/2 cup flour
vegetable or canola oil for pan-frying

Wanjajeon 6Finely chop the vegetables.




Wanjajeon 2Combine all the prepared ingredients, and mix very well by hand until everything is evenly blended, crushing any remaining big pieces of tofu. You can cook a little bit in the microwave (or in a pan) to see if it needs more salt.


Wanjajeon 3Shape the mixture into 2 to 3-centimeter balls, and then gently press between your palms to flatten.



Wanjajeon 4Dredge the patties in flour one at a time, coating well. Shake off excess flour.




Wanjajeon 5Heat a non-stick pan over medium low heat. Coat the pan evenly with 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Dip each piece in the egg, and carefully place in the heated skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, adding more oil, until the meat is cooked through. The meat is ready if it feels firm. Clean the pan, and repeat with the remaining pieces.

Leave a Comment



  1. Pictured is a dipping sauce. Is it just soy sauce? Do you have a sauce recipe that goes well with jeon?
    • I usually make it with 1 tablespoon soy sauce,1 teaspoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, pinch of black pepper and sometimes pinch of red pepper flakes (gochugaru). This is pretty standard. You can adjust vinegar and sugar to your taste. See here: http://www.koreanbapsang.com/2013/02/saewu-mandu-shrimp-dumplings.html#.VBTtoWRdVX4
  2. I have saved this in my "recipes" folder and want to thank you for posting this, and many more thanks for the the beautiful and most helpful photos. When I shop at my local Korean market (we have BIG ones where I live) if I am lucky the ladies are making and selling food like this. I've always wanted to make it for myself, and now I can! You go to so much trouble to do such a beautiful job when you post your recipes. Again, thanks you so much!
  3. How can I make this without any egg (because of an allergy)?
    • Just pan fry them without dredging in flour and dipping in eggs. Or, see this recipe: http://www.koreanbapsang.com/2012/11/kale-doenjang-guk-korean-soybean-paste.html#.VBkO9y5dVX5
  4. What type of Tofu (i.e. soft, medium or hard) should we be using?
    • The harder ones will have less water to deal with. Use medium or hard. Sorry about the late response. It was hard to keep up with emails and comments during my recent trip to Korea.
  5. May I know what flour are you using?
  6. ItIt seems delicious, i'll try it for sure. Thank you for the good work. Gamsahabnida ^^
  7. Mary Heathcoe says:
    Pinterest seems to be blocking you web page.
  8. Will this turn out ok if I skip the flour? Celiac here so can't have gluten. Can I substitute coconut flour? Thank you!!
    • Coconut flour is extremely absorptive, you can't substitute regular flour with it. Try using corn starch instead. It's used instead of flour for many fried Asian recipes and I believe it does not contain gluten.