Jeon refers to a wide-ranging family of pancakelike Korean dishes. This version happens to be gluten free; the combination of rice flour and cornstarch creates a springy pancake that hugs the juiciness of the kimchi and scallions.
As with many dishes using kimchi, the older your kimchi, the better; the abundant juices contribute to the moisture in the batter and infuse it with more fiery, savory flavor. While kimchijeon typically is presented as an appetizer, there's no reason you can't make a whole meal of it, served with greens.
Not all kimchi is vegan. Some may contain fish sauce or shrimp paste. We found vegan kimchi at MOM's stores and gochugaru at Super H Mart in Fairfax.
NOTE: If served as an entree, this recipe should feed 4 people.
Make Ahead: Leftover pancakes can be reheated in a lightly oiled skillet, which should recrisp the pancake edges.
Servings: 4 - 12
Yield: (makes up to 3 thick 8-inch pancakes)
- 2 cups homemade or store-bought kimchi, preferably vegan
- Water, as needed
- 2 teaspoons plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 scallions, white and light-green parts, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
- 3/4 cup white rice flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat a medium cast-iron skillet over medium heat for at least 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop half of the kimchi into 1-inch pieces, reserving any juices. If the juices total less than 1 cup, add water.
Combine all of the kimchi, the kimchi juice/water mixture, 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil, scallions, garlic, toasted sesame oil and gochugaru in a large bowl. Stir in the rice flour, cornstarch and salt to form a thick, chunky batter.
Pour 1 tablespoon of the remaining vegetable oil in the skillet, then tilt the skillet so the bottom is evenly coated. Spread a third of the batter in the skillet, using the back of a spoon to evenly distribute the kimchi chunks throughout. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, occasionally moving the skillet to evenly brown the pancake. It's ready to flip when the edges appear dry and bubbles have formed all over the top. If the pancake begins to stick, use a little more of the remaining vegetable oil for the next pancake, or grease the skillet with cooking oil spray.
Slide a thin spatula beneath the pancake to loosen the bottom. Check the color; the pancake should be golden brown and firm. Use a large, wide spatula to carefully, quickly flip the pancake; if it's too difficult, try sliding the pancake onto a plate first, then flipping it over into the skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the second side is golden.
Loosen the pancake with a spatula, then slide it onto a dinner plate; cover loosely to keep warm. Repeat to use all of the batter, and the remaining oil, as needed.
Cut the pancakes into wedges and serve.
VARIATION: For easier flipping, make lots of small 3-to-5-inch individual pancakes instead.
Adapted from "Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet," by Terry Hope Romero (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2012).
Tested by Becky Krystal.
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