Daily Archives: 21 June 2006

Chijimi vs. Pajon: Korean Okonomiyaki in Japan

Korean okonomiyaki in JapanAmong my favorite Korean dishes is 파전 (p’ajŏn, pajeon), which usually shows up on North American menus as Pa Jun. In North America, it’s often compared to pizza, and in Japan to okonomiyaki. But Jun refers to a much thinner egg batter for quick pan-frying than the batter used in either pizza or okonomiyaki. (In Hawai‘i and parts of the West Coast, you can also find meat jun.)

Japanese Wikipedia tries to clarify the difference.


My rough translation follows (as amended by Matt of No-Sword), using Japanese roumaji (‘roman letters’) for the katakana.

In Japan, chijimi and pajon (파전) are often confused, but pajon is actually jon (전) that uses green onions (pa, 파). Jon, in turn, is a type of puchimuge (called chijimi in Kyongsang Province). There are other types of jon that use kimchee (kimuchijon, 김치전), potato (kamujajon, 감자전), or seafood (hemurujon, 해물전).

While doing a bit of nostalgia-driven culinary fieldwork near the Sannomiya area of Kobe (where I went to high school), I chanced upon a menu that listed both pajon and chijimi side by side (pictured above). So I sampled a small order of pajon to go with a glass of Taishikan Weizen at the Tor Road branch of the New Muenchen Kobe Taishikan, a beer hall whose ambience I fondly remembered, but whose location had drifted away from me (unless it was rebuilt in a different location after the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995).

My research results seem to indicate that Kyongsang-style chijimi more closely resembles Osaka-style Japanese okonomiyaki than does pajon, because that style of chijimi has both a thicker batter and a milder dipping sauce. If chijimi is ever served with mayonnaise, well, that would add an even more decisive factor. The essential difference seems to lie in the batter. Jon uses a lighter egg batter for quick frying, while chijimi uses a heavier batter thickened with more flour. The チヂミ粉 ‘chijimi flour’ that you can buy in Japanese supermarkets apparently contains bean flour as a thickener.

PS: In my careful scrutiny of the New Muenchen Tor Road menu, I noticed a few odd transcriptions out of Japanese katakana into something other than German, Italian, or English: waizen beer, focatcha bread, and humberger sandwich. Being the roving editorial dogooder that I am, I wrote out a note for the management listing the oddities and suggesting corrections. The Japanese spellings in my note were no less idiosyncratic than the romanized spellings on the menu, but I hope the management at least will get a second opinion on the items I noted. (The menu at the main brewpub was much more accurate. It also featured beer-flavored ice cream, which was fortunately beyond the scope of my fieldwork agenda.)

eGullet Forum has a pertinent discussion thread on Korean food in Japan. Some commenters clearly regard Chijimi as just a dialectal synonym of Pa Jun.

UPDATE: I’ve made some revisions in response to corrections by Matt of No-Sword, who was kind enough to be my roving editorial dogooder.

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Negative Action vs. Affirmative Action Inside Higher Ed

The 21 June issue of Inside Higher Ed reports on two articles that “challenge some conventional wisdom about affirmative action in higher education.”

The article about Asian Americans comes amid many reports that they are the group that most benefits from the elimination of affirmative action. That supposition is important for several reasons, both practical and political. On a practical level, it counters the idea that colleges will be all white in a post-affirmative action era. Politically, these projections have been used repeatedly by critics of affirmative action, arguing that they are not “anti-minority” and to appeal for Asian support in referendums. One of the most dramatic studies on this issue came last year, when two Princeton University researchers analyzed data from elite colleges and projected that, without affirmative action, four of every five slots lost by black and Latino students would go to Asian Americans.

In “Negative Action Versus Affirmative Action: Asian Pacific Americans Are Still Caught in the Crossfire,” William C. Kidder takes issue with the Princeton study and similar findings by other scholars. It’s not that the demographic shift seen by the Princeton researchers wouldn’t take place in an admissions system that’s truly race-neutral, says Kidder, a senior policy analyst at the University of California at Davis. Rather, it’s the question of why those slots would go to Asian applicants.

The reason, he says, isn’t the elimination of affirmative action, but the widespread use of “negative action,” under which colleges appear to hold Asian American applicants to higher standards than they hold other applicants. Using the available data from the Princeton study — and not all of it is available — Kidder argues that the vast majority of the gains that Asian American applicants would see come from the elimination of “negative action,” not the opening up of slots currently used for affirmative action. Based on the data used by the Princeton study, Kidder argues that negative action is the equivalent of losing 50 points on the SAT….

Tracking enrollment patterns from 1993, when all of the law schools had affirmative action, to 2004 — when they all did not — and then to 2005, when Texas restored it, his results were surprising. Without affirmative action, the share of Asian American enrollments dropped at two of the law schools and increased only marginally at three of the schools — even though people assume Asian American enrollments will go way up without affirmative action. Kidder notes that during the time period studied, the percentage of Asian Americans applying to law school increased 50 percent, so the pool should have created the opportunity for major increases.

What does this all mean? Kidder argues that all the references to growing Asian enrollments in a post-affirmative action world encourage a return to the “yellow peril” fear of people from Asia taking over. More broadly, he thinks Asian Americans in particular aren’t getting accurate information about the real cause of their perceived difficulties getting into competitive colleges. Their obstacle, he says, isn’t affirmative action, but the discrimination Asian Americans experience by being held to higher standards than anyone else. He says that the differential standards appear to be growing and are similar in some ways to the way some Ivy League institutions limited Jewish enrollments in the first half of the 20th century.

via Instapundit

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