I’m obsessed with a pancake. Korean Kimchi Jeon. How does a simple combination of flour & water plus kimchi produce such a sublime pancake? It is kimchi’s spicy, salty, sweet, sour, bitter, umami, fermented flavors when added to a basic pancake batter that result in an extraordinary snack. Complex in flavor with textures ranging from chewy to crispy and a delightful orange-hue, guests can’t get enough of this popular ahn-joo.
With a jar of kimchi in the refrigerator and the rest of the ingredients pretty much standard pantry items, in 15 minutes or so I can serve a mind-blowing appetizer. Pair with cold beer or makkoli (rice wine) to get the party started!
Two ways to enjoy ~ choose either the partially burnt caramelized kimchi pancake or the crispy/chewy version ~ same ingredients, different method.
kimchi pancake recipe #1 crispy/chewy version
1 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. rice flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. cold water
1/4 c. kimchi juice
1 1/2 c. napa cabbage kimchi (finely or coarsely chopped, depending on recipe)
canola oil for frying
To make the batter, mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in the water. Add kimchi juice and whisk until the batter is completely blended and there are no lumps. The batter should be of medium-light consistency, not too thick, add a bit more water if necessary. This amount of batter makes about three pancakes depending on the size of the pan.
Fold finely chopped kimchi into the batter.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add canola oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, ladle in the batter. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the bottom is a nice golden brown. Then flip the pancake and cook the other side, adding a bit more oil if necessary. If the exterior is browning too quickly for the interior to cook, turn the heat down to medium. Let cool slightly then cut the pancake into wedges and serve with dipping sauce.
kimchi pancake recipe #2 caramelized version
The second version uses coarsely chopped kimchi. The kimchi is sautéed, then the batter is ladled over the kimchi, producing a crispy pancake where the sugar in the kimchi caramelizes to delectable burnt bits.
Saute coasrely chopped kimchi in a bit of canola oil for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little more canola oil to the perimeter of the pan. When the oil is hot, ladle batter over the kimchi, tilting the pan to distribute the batter. Cook 4 to 5 minutes until the bottom is browned and the kimchi is caramelized, then flip and cook the other side.
3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
2 T. seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 T. toasted sesame oil
a few shakes of sesame seeds
a few shakes of gochugaru (red pepper powder)
kimchi jeon & beer