Koreans like to eat pancakes on rainy days. I asked my Dad, who grew up in a farm, why this is and he thinks it’s because when it would rain back in the day people wouldn’t be able to work in the fields and stay indoors. Inevitably, someone would cook up a snack and without much to eat, they would make a simple batter of flour and water and make pancakes. Eventually, other ingredients were added into this batter and it has since evolved into the pancakes that we enjoy today. Pretty good theory, Dad!
Rainy or not, Korean pancakes are great. There are so many kinds – kimchi, potato and oyster, mixed vegetable to name a few and those are just the standard ones – and they’re very easy to make. You can pretty much put anything in them so it’s a great way to use up odd leftover vegetables and such, like compost pancakes. They can be served as a snack, an appetizer or a main. I can even eat them with rice and they’re great with makgeolli, a classic pairing.
My Mom usually makes a chive and squid pancake and it’s delicious. Her recipe makes 4 large pancakes. You’ll need:
1 1/2 cups chives
1 large onion
4-5 green chilies or to taste
1/3 cup carrots
1/2 cup zucchini
3/4 cup squid
1 t minced garlic
1 t beef stock powder
1/2 t salt
1 T potato starch
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup water
neutral-tasting oil like canola oil for frying
1. Prep the vegetables by chopping the chives into 1-inch strips and slicing the onion, carrots and zucchini. Roughly mince the green chilies. Add everything into a big bowl.
2. Cut the squid into thin 1-inch strips. Add into the bowl with 1 egg.
3. Add minced garlic, beef stock powder, salt, potato starch (you can sub with cornstarch) and flour. Mix well.
4. Add a cup of water and mix well. An upside to making these pancakes at home – you can make sure that the batter is merely a binder to hold all the vegetables and squid together rather than make up half the dish which often happens in restaurants.
5. Heat some oil in a large frying pan, about 2 tablespoons, over medium heat. When the oil is ready, transfer the pancake mixture on to the pan using a ladle and flatten evenly. You can also transfer them with a spoon to make smaller ones.
6. When the bottom has cooked and browned somewhat, flip it over. Flip again when the other side is cooked as well.
From there, you can let it cook some more until they’re done to your liking. I like mine very toasty. The toasty bits are the best! Replenish the pan with oil every time you start a new pancake.
7. These pancakes are most delicious when they’re piping hot and crunchy. When my Mom makes them, she serves them as they cook on the stove. Serve immediately with soy sauce.
Fun Food Fact: Never stack more than two pancakes. When you stack more than two, the one on the bottom will absorb all the oil. Yech.