While in Seoul last year I learned that Koreans like to eat savory pancakes and drink makgeolli (막걸리, Korean rice wine) on rainy days. Zeus has been blessing New York with plenty of rain for three days now and I enjoyed some KIMCHI JEON (김치전, kimchi pancakes) today.
To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t exactly because of the weather. It’s been raining, yes, but I also happened to find a “block” of kimchi in the depths of my freezer. I hadn’t put a date on it so I’m not sure if it’s from January? or sometime last year? hmmm… I don’t follow my Mom’s fridge logic that anything you put in the freezer is forever safe to eat. But since it’s fermented cabbage and Koreans routinely consume 2-3 year old mukeunji (aged/mature kimchi), I decided to defrost it and do my best to eat it as quickly as possible.
Most Korean cooks use oil liberally when cooking and practically shallow fry jeon, but I barely used any oil so my pancakes didn’t turn out as crispy. I think my fat & oil-phobic American upbringing has given me a deep rooted fear of oil and fried foods, and I accept that my Korean pancakes will never be as delicious.
KOREAN SAVORY PANCAKE BASE- for two 8” pancakes
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup potato starch (or use AP flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of Kosher salt
plus 1 cup seltzer (or ice water)
Combine the dry ingredients. Add 3/4 cup of chopped kimchi, 1/4 cup sliced onions & scallions, 2 tbsp of kimchi liquid, 1 tsp gochugaru (optional), 1/2 cup of ice water, and stir to make a batter. Add more water if the batter is too thick.
Heat some neutral oil in a non stick skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, ladle half the batter to the pan and spread it out thinly. Cook until golden brown on each side, adding more oil as needed.
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