Rainy days call for jeon, or “korean pancakes” (with a side of makgeolli or rice wine). There’s many versions that can be made: kimchi jeon, seafood jeon, chives jeon, scallion jeon and more! Today we’ll be focusing on the spicy kimchi version that leads to a crispy edge but chewy bite with Baek Jong Won’s secret ingredient of tuna.
Kimchi pancakes is one of the best ways to whip up a quick meal, particularly on a rainy day and to utilize any abundance of very fermented kimchi that might start to go sour soon. Remember when I said I can’t use recipes that use too much kimchi? Well, a friend’s mom gave us a jar (yay!) and so I have been happily fermenting it to use for a day like this!
Most kimchi jeon is a concoction of overly fermented kimchi, pancake flour (or regular all-purpose flour), maybe some onion and scallions, and maybe some egg (depending on the recipe!). With Baek Jong Won’s recipe, we divert a bit from the standard but it’s really good and a very popular recipe.
First the Kimchi: This is standard across all recipes! Try to use good well-kimchi i.e. kimchi that was made fresh yesterday might not be your best option just yet. (This is the same for kimchi fried rice or kimchi jjigae).
**If it’s too fermented, where its getting too sour, a little bit of sugar will help. If not, no sugar is needed.
No Egg: Most jeons include egg but Baek Jong Won prefers to exclude it with kimchi jeon specifically as he notes it does not mesh well with the kimchi flavors.
Water Ratio: Baek Jong Won points out that kimchi jeon batter should be thicker than seafood jeon or other jeon batters.
Canned Tuna: This is an optional ingredient that Baek Jong Won suggested during his TV Show “Home-Cooking with Baek Jong Won” and it became very popular! It does not make the batter fishy nor will you really taste the tuna at all. Instead, you just have a bit chewier and thicker parts of the batter. Only half way through the meal did DrJuh ask = is this .. tuna? It will just alleviate your jeon! Many Korean homes are often stocked with a few emergency cans in their pantry. But, if you don’t have this at home, you can definitely skip it and still enjoy.
Gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes): Most recipes skip this but just a bit is added to make it look more delicious and a vibrate red!
Tip: And, there’s no need to create huge pan-sized jeons. If you’re nervous about flipping, little sizes will help and gives you more outer edges which is the best part. Enjoy with some makgeolli (rice wine) on a rainy day, for a mid-day snack or as a side dish for a easy quick dinner with a bowl of rice! Jeon is best served warm!
Just a few clips from the show!
because Koreans use scissors for everything! one less thing to wash!
Kimchi Jeon (Kimchi Pancake)
- 1 cup (about 200 g) well-fermented kimchi chopped thinly
- 1 Tbsp kimchi juice
- ½ cup Korean pancake mix buchimgaru or all-purpose flour
- ½ Tbsp Korean chili flakes gochugaru
- ½ of a small 5 oz tuna can half of the tuna chunks and 1 Tbsp of the juice will be about 50 g
- ⅜ (6 Tbsp) cup cold water * I found this to be the best texture but for easier measuring, ½ cup works well too!
- Dump the kimchi into a medium sized bowl and cut the kimchi into bite size pieces. *The Korean way: cut the kimchi in the bowl with scissors! No knife needed.
- Add the buchimgaru (pancake mix) directly into the kimchi bowl. Add in the Korean red pepper flakes.
*Tip: 1) The ratio to kimchi:buchimgaru is 2:1.
- **Optional: If using the tuna, add it in now.
- Add in the kimchi juice and cold ice water into the kimchi bowl. Cold water is key here. Combine the ingredients together until incorporated. Do not overmix.Tip: *As noted above, I found ⅜ cup (90 ml) to get the best thick texture but for easier measuring, ½ cup works well too!
- Heat a fry pan on medium-high heat and drizzle in a few Tbsp of oil. Make sure the frypan is well heated and the oil can swirl around in the pan before you add in the batter. Pour a ladle of batter into the pan and help spread it thinly into a circular shape. Cook the jeon until it is nicely browned on one side - about 3 minutes. Flip it over and lightly press down on the jeon with the spatula. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden. You can flip another 1-2 more times if desired.**You want the jeon to almost fry in the beginning to get it nice and crisp.
- If desired, serve with a small dipping sauce of soy sauce and Korean chili flakes. Enjoy with a bowl of rice and soup or as a snack with some rice wine! Serve warm.