Kimchi Pancakes are the kind of fast food we can really get behind. Packed with spicy kimchi and fresh shrimp, these crispy treats make a fantastic appetizer, snack or light dinner.
We are almost never without a large jar of kimchi in our refrigerator. Even our resident Brit (who was initially, shall we say… resistant) has become addicted to the stuff. It’s not just a great condiment for traditional Korean dishes like Bulgogi, it also makes a fantastic cooked ingredient in all sorts of dishes. Its distinct tart-spicy flavor is a great addition to fried rice and stir fries, as well as in less traditional dishes, like grilled cheese sandwiches and compound butter.
You may notice that as kimchi ages, it continues to ferment. The cabbage will soften and become spicier and more tart. At some point you’ll find quite a bit of liquid from the vegetables mixed with the brine in the bottom of the jar. Don’t throw it way! In fact, do a little happy dance because you can use it to make kimchi pancakes.
Note: This recipe is part of our collaboration with Serious Eats.
If you’ve never had kimchi pancakes, you are in for a treat. They’re crispy, spicy and addictively delicious. Even better, they’re just about as easy as it gets. Unlike Chinese scallion pancakes, these don’t require making a dough, so no resting or kneading. You can mix up the batter in minutes, using just a few pantry ingredients.
They are often made with pork but in this version we use shrimp, which adds great flavor and texture to the pancake. This is a quick-cooking dish which means the shrimp have to be chopped up quite small (we found about 1/4-inch chunks to be perfect). That means there’s no need to splurge on expensive jumbo shrimp here. Medium (U36) are perfect, though you should choose the freshest you can find, regardless of size. Frozen shrimp are also a good choice, but make sure they are raw.
Along with the shrimp, you’ll need to chop your kimchi and scallions on the small side to make sure that every bite has a bit of each ingredient and to ensure that everything cooks at the same time. They make an excellent appetizer (banchan) for a Korean meal but since they are packed with a generous amount of kimchi, scallions and shrimp, we served them as our main course, along with some quick-pickled watermelon radishes.
You can either make them large (8-inches, using a full 1/2 cup of batter) and cut them into wedges but I prefer to make them small (4-inches, 1/4 cup batter). One reason is that it makes them easier to flip, but it also gives you more of those crispy edges. Either way, make a lot of them because they go quickly, and don’t forget the dipping sauce!
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (65g) rice flour
- 1½ cups (350ml) ice cold water, plus more as needed
- ¼ cup (60ml) kimchi brine
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup kimchi (8 ounces, 225g) coarsely chopped
- 3 scallions, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 8 ounces (225g) raw shrimp, peeled, de-veined and roughly chopped into ¼ inch pieces
- ½ teaspoon (3g) coarse kosher salt
- Peanut, grapeseed or other neutral oil for frying
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) sugar or honey
- 1 teaspoon (2.5g) toasted sesame seeds
- Scallion greens, finely chopped
- Quick pickled radishes
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, rice flour, water, kimchi juice and egg, and mix lightly. The mixture should be the consistency of slightly lump pancake batter. Stir in the kimchi, scallions, shrimp, and salt. Add a little more water if needed. Let sit while you make the dipping sauce.
- For the dipping sauce: Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. When hot, place ¼ cup of batter into the skillet and spread it out to roughly a 4-inch circle. You may have room to cook 2 to 3 pancakes at a time but don’t crowd pan (alternately, you can make 1 large 8-inch pancake). Cook until the edges turn golden and crispy, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip it over, add a little bit more oil around the pancake, if needed, and cook for about another 2 to 3 minutes until cooked through. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding oil as needed.
- Keep the cooked pancakes in a 250ºF oven, in a single layer on a baking sheet until ready to serve. Serve whole or cut into wedges with dipping sauce and quick pickled radishes, if desired.