Korean Pancakes made easily at home! (Vegetable or Kimchi)
left: vegetable pancake, right: kimchi pancake (with other veggies)
By Phillip Koh
I have decided to write about one of the favorite foods/snacks I make at home – Korean Vegetable Pancakes, or Kimchi Pancakes, depending on what ingredients I use. This was one of the side dishes or an afternoon snack, or even a meal growing up as a child in Korea and in America, that my mom used to cook us frequently. Many years later, I missed eating this delicious treat a lot, so I have decided to try making them at home. As it turns out, it was surprisingly easy to make, and anyone can make it, maybe with a trip to the Korean grocery store (or buy online) for the Korean pancake mix(which you can stock up on as they don’t go bad easily), and buy Kimchi there if you want the Kimchi pancake instead of straight veggie pancakes. So with the Korean pancake mix in hand, anyone can make the vegetable pancakes and the dipping sauce using ingredients found in any supermarket, or if you have kimchi in hand you buy from a supermarket, you can make Kimchi pancakes Any Korean supermarket is sure to have Kimchi, but some Asian grocery stores or even a standard American supermarket carries them often enough now, so look around. Just because we call this Korean (vegetable/kimchi) pancakes, don’t think this will taste anything like the American/Western style pancakes. This isn’t sweet, and it isn’t just for breakfast. It is most often enjoyed as lunch or as a side dish to dinner, or even as a complimentary food to drinking. It is very easy to make, and very tasty. I dare you to make them and try them! :p
- Korean Pancake Mix, (or it can be labeled as Korean Vegetable Pancake mix) You probably won’t be able to find these at a normal Asian store, You’d want to go to a Korean supermarket, or order online. If you really can’t find them or don’t want to buy them but want to make them , you can make the batter by combining/mixing 1 cup flour, 1 cup water, 2 teaspoons of Korean soybean paste (if available), and 1 tablespoon sugar. Note that they won’t taste the same, as these pancake mix has other ingredients in them.
Thats what they look like, either one is fine as I tried both. Label/title is written in Korean but if you look closely, you’ll see that the first one has subtitle in English that says “Vegetable Pancake Mix” and the second one says “Korean Pancake Mix”. You can use it for a couple of cookings at least, and may stretch out to 3-4 meals depending on how many pancakes you cook and how many people you are feeding.
- For Vegetable pancakes: I strongly recommend Zucchini (summer squash, green color) as the main ingredient. Use half to a whole zuccini (per one cup of pancake mix) If zucchini is your only ingredient, use a whole zucchini, or enough to make the mixture pretty chunky with the zucchini pieces.
- For Kimchi pancakes: Kimchi (store bought or homemade,mature kimchi – slightly sour preferred) up to a cup of kimchi, and half cup or less if other ingredients added. or enough to make the mixture relatively chunky.
- Optional: Green Onions (Green onion pancakes are popular as well, by itself or with other veggies)
- Optional: any other veggies, like bell peppers or onions, etc. you can experiment with them
- Optional: you can add cut squid / fresh oysters or mussels if you want seafood veggie pancakes!
For Korean dipping sauce:
Soy Sauce (2-3 tablespoon)
White Vinegar or rice vinegar (1 tablespoon)
Pinch (or half of teaspoon or more) of Korean red pepper flakes (optional) if you don’t have this, use red pepper flakes/powder of your choice.
Sesame Seed Oil (optional) 2-3 drops
Roasted Sesame Seed (a teaspoon or a pinch)
Sugar (1 teaspoon) or Honey
sliced / diced green onions(optional)
black pepper (optional)
Making the Dipping Sauce:
Essential ingredients for the dipping sauce are Soy Sauce and Vinegar (white, or Asian/Japanese rice / sweet vinegar is fine too) Put more Soy sauce then Vinegar, something like 2 part soy sauce to 1 part Vinegar ratio, or 60% soy sauce/40% vinegar If you like more sour and tangy. and add a little bit of sugar to add that layer of taste. Add Korean pepper flakes (they are mild) just a pinch of them, and just a splash / couple drops of Sesame Oil if you have them. You can add a little bit of finely sliced/chopped green onions if you’d like. Mix them together, taste 2-4 times throughout the process to get the flavor right. It should taste like Soy Sauce, but much better, with flavors more sour, and slightly sweet, and a little kick (if you added peppers). This sauce is an important compliment / condiment to the Vegetable / Kimchi /Seafood pancakes.
For Vegetable pancakes: Slice Zucchini into a reasonable thickness: (1/8 to 3/16th of an inch), you can use it that way as round slices or you can make them further into halves or even quarters. If using green onions (either by themselves or in addition to zucchini), cut the green onions into any length, from half inch to up to 4-5 inches long (some prefer to put whole or half lengths and then let it get cut when dividing into pieces after pancakes are cooked), cut or slice any other vegetables you have chosen to put. In the beginning, I strongly recommend using zucchini and/or green onions only, and then move onto Kimchi pancakes, unless you love kimchi already.
For Kimchi pancakes: cut the kimchi into a desired size, if not already cut already. a third to half inch pieces should do well.
For both kinds of pancakes, read the direction on the back of the Korean pancake mix, for adding water. I like to use the natural juices from the kimchi when cooking pancakes and they are naturally wet, so when using Kimchi, use a little less water to offset.
When cooking these Korean pancakes, this is when you can use knowledge gained from cooking regular American style pancakes. Read the instructions in the back of the Pancake mix package, as it’ll show you the cooking recipe. It’s usually 1 cup of pancake mix, with 1 cup of water (or total liquid if using kimchi juice as part of the liquid portion) For those who prefer a bit of freestyling as I often do, to adjust to the varied amount of ingredients: First whisk/mix the pancake mix powder with some water, don’t make it too thin/watery yet, but mix enough so that it’s at least mixed up somewhat into more consistent texture before putting other ingredients in. Pour the other ingredients in and mix them all in. watch the thickness/water content of the mixture, and if they are too thick, add a bit of water, if too thin, add the pancake mix powder until they have a smooth texture and just the right consistency. Think regular American pancake, use the experience gained there, as this is the only part that is relevant and the same between the two! 🙂
Oil the pan with vegetable or peanut oil and pour the pancake/vegetable mixture into the pan. Cook them like you’d cook a normal American pancakes. 3-5 minutes on each side depending on the heat and the thickness/size of the pancakes. When using zucchinis, watch it and cook the pancakes until zucchinis are cooked but not soft. As long as the pancake batter is cooked, stop cooking and take the pan/pancake away from the heat when the zucchini is cooked enough but not mushy, as it’ll be much better when they are still firm (but cooked enough)
When they are cooked to your liking (golden brown but not totally burnt) Cut them into squares 2-3 inches each side) and enjoy with the dipping sauce, they should be really tasty! :p
Hope you enjoyed my blog, and the recipe if you try them! 🙂
Until the next blog,