Korean restaurants serve complimentary side dishes called banchan whenever you order a main dish. Occasionally, you will get a savory pancake served along side the assorted banchan. The most common style of pancake is pa-jeon (scallion pancake) but sometimes, if you get lucky, they will serve complimentary kimchi-jeon (kimchi pancake) instead. Kimchi-jeon is my favorite Korean pancake because of the heat level and intense flavor. I have fond memories of my mom making a huge tower of kimchi-jeon for lunch. My brothers and I would eat them until we were completely stuffed.
Here is an updated version of mom’s recipe. In my recipe, I sauté the onions prior to adding them to the batter to mellow out their sharp bite and to add natural sweetness to the kimchi-jeon. If you don’t like your kimchi-jeon too spicy, you can replace some of the kimchi juice with an equal amount of water. In that case, you should also add a pinch more salt. This recipe only makes two pancakes, unlike my mom’s recipe which can feed an army. I like to serve it as part of a larger Korean meal with other banchan. Enjoy!
Kimchi-Jeon (Kimchi Pancakes)
Yield: 2 large pancakes (4 servings as an appetizer)
Sunflower seed oil or organic canola oil
1/4 cup of chopped onions
1/2 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of kimchi juice
2 tablespoons of water
1 large egg
3/4 cup of chopped kimchi
2 scallions, sliced crosswise
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
Black sesame for garnish, optional
Organic soy sauce for serving
1. Heat a medium sauté pan to medium-low heat. Add 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the the chopped onions. Sauté for 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. In a large bowl, add the flour, water, kimchi juice, and egg. Whisk well.
3. Add the chopped kimchi, cooked onions, scallions, salt, black pepper, and sesame.
4. Heat a cast iron or heavy bottom frying pan to medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons of oil.
5. Add a ladle full of batter and spread to flatten and evenly distribute the kimchi.
Fry for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Flip over and fry the other side for 2 more minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Repeat to with the 2nd pancake.
7. Using kitchen scissors, cut each pancake into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle black sesame seeds on top. Serve with soy sauce. They are best eaten when warm.