Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes
I have a weakness for cabbage pancakes and I know exactly why.
I grew up eating (& loving) ‘Sanna Pollo’, the traditional Mangalorean Konkani version made with a ground mixture of rice, chillies & tamarind. The original version has toor dal as well, but my mother-in-law makes an amazing version by adding coconut instead.
This weakness compels me to try anything that has the words ‘cabbage’ & ‘pancake’ in the title, including Jeon, the Korean version. I had tried several combinations of vegetables (sometimes with the addition of chicken/prawns) but I had never thought of adding potatoes – strange, considering that I love adding them to everything & that I love the cabbage & potato combination. It’s only when I stumbled upon a potato version online recently that it occurred to me what a great idea that was – this makes the pancakes so much more delicious & sturdy that I don’t see myself ever going back to the potato-less version.
The recipe I include here is deliberately kept simple and basic without the need for any special ingredients, which is reflected in the title ‘Korean-Style’ rather than ‘Korean’. If you have Korean ingredients such as kimchi and gochugaru at hand, by all means, use them. These pancakes are delicious on their own, with a dip, fried egg or anything else you might fancy. I have eaten them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and occasionally (she admits sheepishly) I’ve eaten them for all three meals in one day. It’s not my fault – I blame the pancakes for being so addictive.
After trying various combinations of vegetables, this version has become my standard go-to because it’s the one I love the most. You could use any vegetables you like, but I would recommend this recipe as written at least once before tinkering with it. The mixture, as you can see in the photos that follow, is rather dry, so much so that I didn’t know whether to call it a batter or a dough. Plain flour is traditional, but I prefer rice flour as it lends extra crispness. You could also use chickpea flour if you’d like to amp up the protein factor.
Please do read the notes below for important tips on cooking these pancakes.
Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes
Quick and easy pancakes loaded with veggie goodness that you can have at any meal.
- 150 g (1.5 cups) very thinly sliced white cabbage
- 150 g (1 medium) potato very thinly sliced - I wash it well & leave unpeeled
- 150 g (1 large) carrot peeled & sliced thinly
- 2 spring onions (scallions) sliced thinly
- 2 mild fresh red chillies finely chopped, for colour
- 2 hot fresh red chillies finely chopped, for heat
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander
- 1 tsp garlic paste about 2 -3 cloves, minced
- 1 tbs lemon juice preferably freshly squeezed
- 2 tsp white sesame seeds
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds optional
- 1 tbs light soy sauce
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil optional
- 2 large eggs beaten lightly
- 3/4 cup rice flour or use plain flour or chickpea flour
- salt, freshly ground black pepper & oil as needed
Place the sliced cabbage, potato, carrot, spring onions , chillies, coriander, garlic paste and lemon juice in a large bowl. Mix well.
Add the sesame seeds, soy sauce & sesame oil if using and mix again.
Add the eggs & the rice flour and mix to form a very thick batter (see photo). Taste & season if needed. If using plain flour or chickpea flour, you might need a little bit of water to form a cohesive mixture.
Heat about a tbsp of oil on a cast iron pan & drop about 1/2 a cup of the batter. Press down with the back of a spoon or a spatula to make a flat pancake about 4" across. Make a couple more on the same pan at the same time if there's space. Do not crowd them, though.
Fry for about 5 minutes on each side on low heat until crisp & the potatoes are cooked through. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Serve with chilli oil , dark soy sauce, chilli sauce or anything else you fancy.
1. I have kept the ingredients basic so you don't need to go buy specialist ingredients. But if you have Korean ingredients such as gochugaru & kimchi lying around, by all means, do use them.
2. You can substitute the fresh red chillies for crushed dried red chillies.
3. If you so wish, add a handful of finely chopped prawns ( preferably uncooked) or cooked chicken to the vegetables.
4. It is important to slice the vegetables, the potatoes in particular, very thinly so that they cook quickly & evenly. Raw cabbage & carrots are edible but raw potatoes, not so much.
5. These do take a little while to cook because the potatoes will need that much time. Increasing the amount of oil to fry will hasten this process somewhat.