On a rainy day, Koreans traditionally have jeon, a type of pancake, and makgeoli, a rice wine. If you have nicely fermented kimchi and some flour, you can make this popular snack in no time. The flavor-packed sour kimchi does wonders when it’s fried in a simple batter. This article is part of a series written by Home: Soil, Soul, Society’s Seyoung Park. In the series, Park shares recipes and instructions for cooking traditional Korean dishes. The goal is to guide and educate blog readers, cooking enthusiasts, and anyone at home trying to make a particular Korean dish. Park is a longtime culinarian and the operator of the Mokpo restaurant Home: Soil, Soul, Society. One of her goals is to spread food culture to foreigners who might be unfamiliar with traditional Korean cuisine. Many of her recipes blend traditional Korean influences with vegan and organic-centered food philosophy. Because of her influences, Park has a unique take on each of these dishes, and she has decided to share the way she cooks them with the public. The second recipe that Park will teach how to cook is kimchi jeon, or kimchi pancakes.
(Servings: 3 )
-1 cup of thinly sliced fully-fermented kimchi.
-1 to 2 scallions. Two if thin and small.
-1/4 of a medium onion.
-Cooking oil with high smoke point for pan frying.
-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour or buchimgaru (Korean pancake premix). Or swap 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour with sweet rice flour or corn or potato starch.
-2 to 3 tablespoons juice or liquid from kimchi. See note on water below.
-1 or 2 teaspoons of gochujang, or Korean chili pepper paste. Or gochugaru instead—it is a second option.
-1 lightly beaten egg—optional.
-1 cup of cold soda water, for crispy taste. Use more water if juice or liquid from the kimchi is unavailable and don’t use an egg. Flour to liquid should be about 1:1 ratio in total.
*Optional Dipping Sauce (Combine all the ingredients)
-1 tablespoon of soy sauce
-1 teaspoon of vinegar
-1 tablespoon of water
*Thinly slice the kimchi, about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the scallions into about 2-inch pieces. If the white part is thick, cut in half lengthwise. Thinly slice the onion.
*In a large bowl, combine the flour with the liquid from kimchi, the optional gochujang or gochugaru (plus an optional egg), and water, a little bite at a time. Start by dissolving the gochujang with water, and mix everything together. Do not mix it too much.
*Add a little more water if the batter is too thick. The batter should flow easily from a spoon.
*Stir in the kimchi, scallions, onions, and the optional protein of your choice.
*Heat one tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Ladle the mixture into the pan, and spread it evenly into a thin round shape. Cook until the edges turn light golden brown, which is about 3 minutes. Turn it over, and add more oil to the sides of the pan. Gently swirl the pan to distribute the oil under the pancakes. Press the pancake down with a spatula.
*Cook until the other side is nicely browned and crispy, for about 2 to 3 minutes.
*Repeat the process until there is no remaining batter. Serve hot with a dipping soy sauce with vinegar, if desired.
Tips for making kimchi pancakes:
- Use well fermented sour kimchi.
- Use juice or liquid from kimchi if at all possible.
- Use icy cold water.
- The batter should be thin enough to flow easily from a spoon.
- Spread the batter thin when pan frying.
- Use a generous amount of oil.
- Increase the heat a little to crisp up the pancakes at the end of pan-frying
All you need is flour
Everything listed above in the ingredients is nice to have, but not absolutely necessary. All-purpose flour or gluten-free flour is all you need!
You can add some sweet rice powder or corn or potato starch, if available, to give it a little bit of crispy, slightly chewy texture.
Of course, buchim garu, or 부침가루 is helpful. The Korean pancake pre-mix is always good for any savory Korean pancakes. It’s a staple in Korean homes.
The addition of some juice or liquid from the kimchi is the key. It gives the pancake batter its distinct flavor and a nice orange hue.
For a slightly spicier kimchi pancake, I like to add a little bit of gochujang, or Korean red chili pepper paste, to the batter.
The recipe and instructions in this article were created by Seyoung Park. Seyoung Park can be found on Instagram and Facebook. Her restaurant Home: Soil, Soul, Society is also open to visitors.
David Kute has an appreciation for Seoul’s distinct neighborhoods. From Dongdaemun’s market stalls to Hongdae’s rock music venues, the city continues to fascinate him. After spending many years living and working in Seoul and South Korea, he started the blog Rooftop on the Hanok. The blog is a place to share information as well as explore facets of life on the Korean peninsula. He enjoys writing fiction and playing basketball when he’s not researching or writing Rooftop on the Hanok posts.