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Kimchijeon (Kimchi Pancake)

May 22, 2014

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!

Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake) with dipping saucePin it!

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.)

Making Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)

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!)

Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake) with dipping saucePin it!

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…

Making Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)

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!

Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake) with dipping saucePin it!

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!)

Dicing kimchi for Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)

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.

Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake) with dipping saucePin it!

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.

Frying Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)

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.

Dipping sauce for Korean pajeon or kimchijeon

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.

Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake) with dipping saucePin it!

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.

Ingredients for the kimchi-jeon dipping sauce           Making kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)

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.

Making kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)           Frying the kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)

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.

Cutting the kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)Serving the kimchijeon (kimchi pancake)

6. Use scissors to cut into squares or rectangles. Serve warm with dipping sauce.

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Kimchijeon (kimchi pancake) with dipping saucePin it!

Related recipe posts:

Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokkeumbap) Kimchi Kimbap and Pickled Cucumber Banchan Korean Banchan: Spicy Sesame Bean Sprouts Jap Chae with Kimchi
Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokkeumbap) Kimchi Kimbap and Pickled Cucumber Banchan Korean Banchan: Spicy Sesame Bean Sprouts Jap Chae with Kimchi
69 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2014 9:14 am

    I am going to have to try this. It looks delicious!

  2. May 22, 2014 9:23 am

    Sounds like a busy few weeks – good luck with everything!!

  3. May 22, 2014 9:37 am

    Good luck on your dissertation and lovely recipe! :)

  4. Debbie Spivey permalink
    May 22, 2014 9:58 am

    Safe travels!

  5. May 22, 2014 10:06 am

    1. good luck on your dissertation presentation and defense.
    2. safe travels!
    3. this looks wonderful. i adore kim chi, husband does not, and i’m wondering if this might get him to soften a bit…

    • May 22, 2014 10:28 am

      Thanks and thanks! I think cooking kimchi is the surest way to make skeptics fall in love with it — it really mellows the flavors, without dulling them, if that makes any sense. (So you might try out something like kimchi fried rice on him, too…) You could also cut back on the kimchi in the kimchijeon a little, and instead get some other fillers/vegetables in there with it… like maybe shrimp, squid, scallions, or shredded, seasoned zucchini…

  6. May 22, 2014 10:15 am

    You’ll be busy! I hope it all goes well. :)

    • May 22, 2014 10:29 am

      Thank you! :) Yep, I’ve been busy, and now I’ll get busier! But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel after these next two weeks…

  7. May 22, 2014 11:25 am

    Best of luck Alison! Great recipe to see yourself out. X

  8. May 22, 2014 12:15 pm

    Never heard of Kimchi, thanks for sharing the recipe! Have a good two weeks off.

    • May 25, 2014 3:06 pm

      Wow, you’ve really never heard of kimchi?! Then you are in for a treat when you try it! (Or you might hate it, as some people do when they *first* try it… but if you like spicy food, then I’m guessing it will grow on you…) :)

  9. May 22, 2014 12:22 pm

    mmmm loving Kimchi at the moment this looks like a great way to enjoy it.
    Good luck & happy travels

    • May 25, 2014 3:08 pm

      Thanks so much! :) And yes this is a great way to enjoy kimchi, especially kimchi that’s fermented past its prime… (although I also use newly-purchased kimchi for it!).

  10. May 22, 2014 12:53 pm

    I just figured out tonight’s dinner – YUM.
    Good luck and congrats on your dissertation!

  11. May 22, 2014 12:54 pm

    I love scallion pancakes and kimchi. Another wonderful recipe! This looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it.

    • May 25, 2014 3:12 pm

      Thanks, Amanda! Yes, I really love Korean scallion pancakes (pajeon) which often have chili peppers and/or seafood cooked into them too… but kimchijeon is probably my favorite of the jeons! :)

  12. May 22, 2014 1:02 pm

    I love Korean style pancakes! A restaurant near me does a seafood one that was big enough to feed me for 3 days. That was the fishiest weekend of my life.

    • May 25, 2014 3:18 pm

      Oh my god, that sounds awesome. I’ve also nearly been done in by the size of some of the seafood/scallion Korean pancakes (haemul pajeon) in Seoul — I definitely went to a restaurant by myself once and ordered one as a snack, thinking it would be appetizer-sized, but I think I ate the equivalent of 2 full meals before I gave up and couldn’t finish it!

      (This recipe is for a much smaller & more manageable size kimchijeon — partially because they don’t make the best leftovers, unless you take the time to reheat them on a cast iron skillet or something that’ll get them crisped up again — but mostly because with any bigger pancakes, I have anxiety about not breaking them when I flip them over with a spatula!)

  13. walgenbe permalink
    May 22, 2014 1:32 pm

    Yay! I have been anticipating this recipe since you mentioned it. Now there is clearly a reason for me to go out and get a jar of kimchi for the fridge. Plus that’s a good excuse to go to K-town and eat at my favorite Korean buffet/take-away place. Where I failed at soon du bu, hopefully your recipe will help me succeed at jeon. I assume essentially the same theory for pajeon?

    • May 25, 2014 3:23 pm

      Yay! I hope you like it. And yeah, I mean most pajeon can also be made with just flour/water (or you can add an egg), but kimchijeon is a little different, because the kimchi adds so much bulk to the pancake.

      I haven’t perfected a pajeon recipe to have any super knowledgeable tips on this (mostly because Paula would NOT eat that much scallion!) but I’d say you’d definitely want to increase the amount of batter for pajeon, and also pour it into the hot pan first and *then* drop the scallions / sliced chili pepper / whatever into the pancake while the first side is cooking, rather than mixing the ingredients into the batter in advance the way kimchijeon is made.

      • walgenbe permalink
        June 19, 2014 8:18 am

        So I just bought kimchi expressly to make this dish (ok, I also made some korean marinated chicken on the new! grill). Also, what if I add CSA scallions to this recipe, but like, not full on pajeon? I’ll notify you of the results :) Jordan’s cat keeps eating the garlic chives I’m trying to grow on the pattio, but someday maybe they’ll survive long enough that I’ll be begging for more korean recipes!

  14. May 22, 2014 1:34 pm

    Good luck with the dissertation panel, enjoy the time off, and ta for the kimchi recipe! Looks delicious, as always :)

    • May 25, 2014 3:25 pm

      Thank you, thank you, and thank you! :) I guess I will enjoy the time off from blogging (especially the dealing-with-photos part), and I’ll definitely enjoy my sister’s wedding, but really I just want the next two weeks to be overwith!!

  15. May 22, 2014 2:02 pm

    I love this idea! Sounds amazing!

  16. May 22, 2014 4:17 pm

    Oh my goodness, I love scallion pancakes and this is just a whole new level of awesome. WANT.

    Enjoy your time off my friend!

    • May 25, 2014 3:31 pm

      Thank you! Yep, I agree that kimchijeon is a whole new level of awesome above regular old pajeon (or Chinese scallion pancakes), but I also have a slight obsession with kimchi, which I might only *imagine* is shared by everyone who’s ever tasted it…

  17. May 22, 2014 6:25 pm

    Thanks for the Korean pancake recipe! And congrats on wrapping up your dissertation–I just finished the process and it feels great to be done :)

    • May 25, 2014 3:39 pm

      Thank you! And congratulations to you, too!! (What field are you in? I’m in linguistics.)

      I know it’s going to feel amazing to be done… after all, I’ve had the guilt from *not* working on it hanging around for years now!

  18. sarahjmir permalink
    May 22, 2014 7:16 pm

    This looks great – my husband LOVES Kimchi and would be so excited if I made this, thanks for sharing the recipe!

  19. thevictoriankitchen permalink
    May 22, 2014 7:36 pm

    This is going to be breakfast tomorrow! I got a little heavy handed with the spice when I made my last batch of kimchi and while it tastes good, it’s somewhat painful to eat! Glad to have a use for it in these pancakes. Also, going to put a runny egg on top. YUM.

    Good luck on your dissertation, and enjoy our fair state!

    • May 25, 2014 3:47 pm

      Yummm, it has never once occurred to me to have this for breakfast, OR to top it with an egg, but those are both genius ideas! I hope you enjoyed it!

      How awesome that you make your own kimchi, too. I’ve only done that (with help) when I was briefly living in Korea, but I really want to start making my own, and not just the pechu kimchi with cabbage, but with other vegetables, too. It’s funny to hear that you made yours too spicy, since that’s exactly what happened to me the first time I made it — it was painful to eat! I probably should have cooked that into some kimchijeon instead of suffering through it. :)

      Anyway, thanks! (Are you in Wisconsin? I’m originally from Madison, WI, which is why my sister’s having her wedding there.)

  20. May 22, 2014 9:56 pm

    It looks so yummy. Good luck with your dissertation! I’m also writing a dissertation for my PhD and I envy you because you’re almost at the last stage. ^^ I hope that you can defend well.

    • May 25, 2014 3:50 pm

      Thank you, Jessie! I didn’t realize that you were working on your PhD, too… What are you studying? (I’m studying linguistics and second language acquisition.) Good luck to you, too, on getting closer to the last stage! ^^

  21. May 22, 2014 11:16 pm

    I can only imagine its wonderful flavours!

  22. May 22, 2014 11:24 pm

    Good luck and enjoy the wedding :-)

  23. May 23, 2014 5:37 am

    Wow, I love this simple recipe idea! It looks very interesting! Good luck with your defense and everything!

  24. May 23, 2014 5:51 am

    AHHHHHH this looks amazing, Allison!!! Bowl #2 is on the bindaetteok side of the kimchi pancake divide, but always says that no one’s bindaetteok will ever match up to his grandmother’s fabled version. Maybe I’ll just surrender and defect to the kimchijeon side instead of trying fruitlessly to recreate her legendary pancakes ;) Because these look amaaaazing. Good luck with the final steps of your dissertation, and enjoy the wedding!!!

    • May 25, 2014 4:20 pm

      Thanks, Cynthia! I love bindaetteok too, but it does seem a little harder to make… (I’ve never tried it.) I remember going to a super crowded food market in Seoul (the weekend before Chuseok so I’m not kidding about how crowded it was), and there was a small wooden machine, that looked almost like a grain mill, that was just grinding up mung beans for nokdujeon and other dishes and shooting out this smooth floury paste into a giant container, and I just stood there mesmerized by it thinking, well that’s one more thing that I will NOT be able to find in the states when I go back…

      Anyway, you don’t actually have to take sides, of course — you and Bowl #2 can always eat kimchijeon AND bindaetteok for a meal, even after you master his grandmother’s bindaetteok recipe, which I’m sure you are capable of doing. :)

      And thank you!! Can’t wait to be done with this 7-year PhD! And I’m even more excited about the big family reunion that my sister’s wedding weekend will be.

  25. May 23, 2014 9:34 am

    Fabulous way to use kimchi! I love kimchi and have tasted it “cooked” Looking forward to seeing you return and enjoy the wedding!

  26. May 23, 2014 9:36 am

    What I meant to say is I have NOT tasted it cooked. Geez.

  27. May 23, 2014 11:47 am

    So original. Kimchi is the best. :-)

    • May 25, 2014 4:24 pm

      Thanks, Shanna! It’s not original at all, though, since this is just the way I figured out that works best for me to make this pretty common Korean dish! But I definitely agree with you about kimchi being the BEST. :)

      • May 25, 2014 6:49 pm

        I retract the previous comment and insert the phrase “original to a boring American like me” who is always trying to learn more. Thanks for being a great teacher! :-) I recently discovered both kimchi and miso and have fallen in love with fermentation. Beautiful photos and recipe, Allison.

      • May 26, 2014 11:48 am

        Haha, yeah I figured that’s what you meant, but I just wanted to make it clear that in no way was I taking credit for coming up with this dish… I have also gotten more into all things fermented recently. Have you read “Cooked” by Michael Pollan? I absolutely LOVED that book, and 1/4 of it is about fermentation, so you might enjoy reading it!

  28. May 23, 2014 4:40 pm

    I looooove kimchi pancake and I’ve never created it from scratch, I always cheated using the packaged mix, but I will be making this!

    • May 25, 2014 4:28 pm

      Thanks! Yeah, I know, I have used packaged mixes for this before too, and honestly that’s why I was experimenting with mixing in different types of flour, since the mixes always have at least 3 different kinds in a blend… (I have one mix of jeon batter that even includes dotorigaru — acorn flour!) but when making it from scratch, it actually turned out the best when I used only all-purpose flour!

  29. May 24, 2014 4:47 am

    Sounds like you are going to be super busy my friend! I am sure it will all go smoothly!
    Keep energised with this delicious pancake! Want to try it :D

    Choc Chip Uru

    • May 25, 2014 4:32 pm

      Thanks, Uru! Yep, I hope it’ll go smoothly, too. I’m always impressed by how you juggle school and (prolific) blogging, so I know there are others in the same boat. :)

  30. May 25, 2014 4:46 pm

    I’ve never made this myself, but now I will because do I enjoy kimchi:) good luck with your dissertation defense!

  31. afracooking permalink
    June 1, 2014 10:45 am

    What? You really have not missed a post until now! Wow! Well, I have been horrible lately. I just got back from a little trip and I have not even seen a computer for days and days! Although I love love love to travel it is great to be back home, sit on my sofa and visit my favourite blogs :-) And (as always) you have cooked some amazing food! Wow!

    • June 12, 2014 10:24 am

      Yep, it was pretty crazy how dedicated I remained to this blog despite entire weeks of slacking off in the dissertation department. But I think it helped get me through grad school!

      Like you I love love love to travel, and I also love to get back home and cozy up with my laptop or a good book, and not have to leave the house for an entire weekend… :)

  32. June 11, 2014 1:24 pm

    This is such a unique idea!! I love kimchi and I love pancakes!! Together = bliss!

    • June 12, 2014 10:25 am

      Thanks! I love kimchi and pancakes too, and they are even better when their powers are combined, like you said! (This is not at all original, though, it’s a dish that’s pretty easy to find in Korea… and this is just my version of it. :)

  33. November 26, 2014 1:20 am

    Tolle Fotos,Tolle Rezepte, ich werde immer wieder schauen und auch verschiedenes kochen.
    Gruß Schnippelboy


  1. Travel Photos: Weekend in Seoul | spontaneous tomato

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