Kimchijeon (Kimchi Pancake)
A note to my dear readers: I haven’t missed a single week of posting in over two years, but it’s finally happening — I will be taking the next two weeks off. I’ll be back on Thursday, June 12th! (And if you’re wondering why: One week from today, I give a talk about my dissertation, then fly to Wisconsin for my sister’s wedding. The following week, I fly back to CA to defend my dissertation. Wish me luck!) I’ll miss you while I’m away!
Remember back when I wrote about how sauteed kimchi is like the gateway drug to raw (fermented) kimchi? Well I’m giving you one more recipe that uses cooked kimchi to really win over anyone who still has any doubts.
That’s how passionate I am about the combination of kimchi + heat.
And yes, I know you lose the probiotic benefits of kimchi when you cook it, but what better way to use up that really sour kimchi in the old jar, before you open up a new one? (Although I’m pretty sure you could justify this to any skeptics with the taste alone.)
Kimchijeon is a crispy, savory pancake, packed with tangy kimchi.
It’s also a FAST weeknight (half of a) dinner. Sure, it’s meant to be an appetizer or a side dish in Korea, but that hasn’t stopped Paula and me from frying up two of them at once and enjoying them as our main course. (All in the name of recipe testing for the blog!)
It’s the perfect dinner to whip up when you have next to nothing in the house — no fresh vegetables to speak of, no meat or fish in the freezer, no fresh fruit to toss on top of cereal and call it dinner: only a sour jar of kimchi in the corner of the fridge, and a little flour and water…
This has happened to me more and more recently as I’ve gotten toward the end of my PhD program (with less and less energy to cook). Just two more weeks and I can get back to some high maintenance, multiple-ingredient cooking again!
I’ve actually tried out quite a few versions of this in the past few weeks, many of them with a little rice flour, or other flour combinations, but I’ve found that the straight up all-purpose flour allows for the thinnest, crispiest pancakes that still get cooked all the way through. And since all-purpose flour is what people usually keep around, that just makes this dish all the more convenient. (I haven’t tried it with any completely gluten-free flour mixtures, but if anyone discovers one that works well, I’d be interested to hear it!)
You’ll want the batter to seem quite thin and liquidy — like it’s really mostly the diced kimchi with just a little batter around it — that’s okay; it will all come together into a pancake.
It still might require a little experimenting with different size pans, though. If you’re using a pan that’s too small and you can’t spread the batter out thinly, then the pancake will be puffy and the middle won’t get cooked enough: better to spread the batter thin, and make a second mini pancake, rather than one big one that’s too puffy.
Other types of Korean jeon (like pajeon, made with scallions) are often eaten with a vinegary dipping sauce, laced with garlic and crushed red chili pepper. Kimchijeon is so flavorful, it doesn’t really need a dipping sauce, but it fancies things up a little, and adds an extra kick of garlic and heat to a dish that’s already delicious but not actually that spicy.
I’m including the dipping sauce that I like to make for jeon here. Just in case you want to take your single-pan, under-30-minute, kimchi+flour+water, appetizer-for-dinner experience up a notch.
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Kimchijeon (Kimchi Pancake)
(Serves 2 as an appetizer, or 1 as a small meal; Doubles easily!)
Active and Total time: 25 minutes.
Dipping Sauce Ingredients (makes enough for one or two pancakes):
~ 2½ Tbsp. soy sauce
~ 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
~ ½ tsp. sesame oil
~ 1 small clove garlic, minced
~ ½-1 tsp. kochukaru (Korean crushed red chili pepper)
~ 1 scallion, thinly sliced
Kimchijeon Ingredients (makes one 8- or 9-inch pancake):
~ ½ cup flour
~ pinch of sugar
~ pinch of salt
~ ⅔ cup kimchi, diced
~ ½ cup water
~ 2-3 Tbsp. kimchi liquid (from the kimchi jar)
~ 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (for frying the pancake)
Special equipment needed:
~ a 10″ or 11″ non-stick pan (with a flat bottom inside that’s 8″ or 9″)
How to make it:
1. Mix together all dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Pre-heat the vegetable oil in the pan on very low heat for 7-10 minutes (to make sure the pan is evenly heated), then turn it up to medium heat for another 3-4 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, dice the kimchi (if you don’t want your hands to get spicy, use a plastic ziploc bag over your hand as you hold the kimchi in place). Then combine the kimchijeon ingredients in a medium bowl: whisk together flour, sugar, and salt, then use a rubber spatula to stir in the diced kimchi, water, and kimchi liquid, adding another spoonful or two of kimchi liquid or water to thin the batter more if necessary.
4. Test the temperature of your pan with a tiny drop of the batter — it should sizzle. Spread the oil around evenly by tilting the pan (or with a bit of paper towel held between chopsticks). Then quickly pour in and spread out the batter (or only half the batter, if you doubled the recipe). It will start cooking and firming up immediately so spread it out right away with a rubber spatula.
5. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side (or longer for slightly thicker pancakes, but use a spatula to start checking the bottom for too much browning after the first 2-3 minutes). You can add more oil to the pan under the second side if desired, but I usually don’t bother with that. Flip the pancake back over and fry on each side for another minute or two, until it looks lightly browned and crispy. Then transfer to a plate, nicer side up.
6. Use scissors to cut into squares or rectangles. Serve warm with dipping sauce.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
Related recipe posts:
|Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokkeumbap)||Kimchi Kimbap and Pickled Cucumber Banchan||Korean Banchan: Spicy Sesame Bean Sprouts||Jap Chae with Kimchi|