Kimchi makes me happy. My dad always loved the wonderfully stinky food but had to keep it tightly wrapped up in the fridge so that it wouldn’t make the entire fridge smell. But as much as I laughed about his stinky food, I fell in love with it as soon as I was able to handle the heat. Now I live near a Korean grocery store that sells gallons of kimchi: white kimchi, spicy daikon, fresh versions and even cucumbers with that familiar spicy zing. I took advantage And ate it all when I was pregnant with Z. Varieties of spicy veggies from the banchan bar, kimbap with a side of fresh kimchi and kimchi pancakes. Apparently this kimchi obsession made a difference because Z now has a taste for funky fermented foods too, everything from kimchi to pickles and sauerkraut. My husband still hasn’t fallen in love with kimchi, so Girl’s Night at my house means Kimchi Pancakes with Shrimp with banchan from Joong Boo Market (aka The Boo), our local Korean grocery store. While pancakes are typically served as an appetizer at Korean restaurants, they make a perfect main dish on busy weeknights.
Kimchi pancakes are the perfect weeknight snack or appetizer because they are easy to throw together, customizable and don’t require much planning. I don’t know the proper names for anything kimchi-related, but I know how to pick out the good stuff. Look for cabbage that is tightly packed and with a bit of bubbly fermentation at the top and preferably from a store that has quick turnover. It starts to get a little funky after sitting in your fridge for a while, but that’s not a problem. Just sauté it a bit before using it in the pancakes. Something about the heat and caramelization mellow that flavors. Pre-cooked shrimp can be thawed in minutes, so you probably have everything on hand. This is another modified Maangchi recipe (see Korean-Style Fried Chicken Bites,) but I have tamed it a bit by eliminating the kimchi juice. Z likes kimchi when I rinse it a bit, and I don’t want to push my luck with the spiciness. I usually see these pancakes filled with long strips of scallions, but I have replaced them with thinly sliced onions that are easier for toddlers to eat.
The trick with this recipe is to use the largest pan that you can find, preferably non-stick. Unlike regular pancakes, you are only making one pancake, so you want to get it right. Too small of a pan and your pancake will be very thick. Not enough oil and it will stick and burn. A 12 inch non-stick pan with a little oil = perfection. No 12 inch pan? You can make 2 smaller pancakes! Wait until the pancake is golden brown underneath before flipping. Be patient, it is totally worth the effort. Throw together a dipping sauce while you wait, otherwise you will be picking at the little fried kimchi bits coming out the side before you sit down to eat.
|Kimchi and Shrimp Pancake|| |
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup flour
- 1 cup kimchi, drained and chopped
- 1 -2 scallions, sliced thin
- 4 medium sized cooked shrimp, quartered
- neutral oil for coating the pan
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- Sliced scallion for garnish
- Mix 4 ingredients together in a medium size bowl.
- Stir in kimchi, scallions and shrimp.
- Coat the bottom of a non-stick skillet with neutral oil.
- Heat until oil is glistening.
- Add batter to the pan and spread evenly so that it fills the pan.
- After about 2 minutes, check if the pancake is browning at the bottom.
- Once it is golden brown, use a large spatula to flip the pancake over. You will need a big spatula!
- Wait another minute or two until the bottom is golden brown.
- Remove from heat, slice and serve.
- Mix thoroughly.
If you don't have a large pan and/or a large spatula, make 2 smaller pancakes. Check for browning after about 1 minute before flipping.