I discovered kimchi only a few months ago, but when I did, there were fireworks. I nearly ate a whole jar of King Kong kimchi in a single salty, spicy and sour sitting. Then I went in search of recipes that would justify buying more, and became acquainted with the kimchi jeon at Oshibi, a Korean restaurant in York. A jeon is a forgiving pancake that absorbs tofu and most vegetables, but still becomes crisp, given enough time in the pan.
Kimchi pancakes with spinach salad
This makes four pancakes, or enough for a light lunch for four or dinner for two hungry people. The perennial problem with pancakes is how to keep them warm so everyone can eat together: once cooked, I keep mine in a warm spot and under foil.
Prep 10-15 min
Cook 25 min
250g kimchi (suitable for vegans)
80g rice flour
80g plain flour
1 tsp salt
200g (ie half a pack) drained firm tofu (such as Cauldron), cut into thin slivers
80g bean sprouts (ie, one big handful)
5 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
120g baby spinach leaves
For the dipping sauce
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 ½ tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, plus extra to garnish
Tip the kimchi into a sieve over a measuring jug, and press down to extract as much juice as possible. Measure the juice and, if need be, top it up to 200ml with tap water. Roughly chop the drained kimchi.
In a large bowl, use a fork to whisk the flours and salt, then stir in the kimchi juice. Add the kimchi, tofu, bean sprouts and spring onions – save a small handful of the onions for the sauce – and stir again. The batter should be wet but scoopable. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a small bowl, mix the soy, sesame oil, vinegar, chilli, the reserved spring onion and sesame seeds.
Finely shred the spinach, then put in a salad bowl, add two tablespoons of dipping sauce and toss to coat.
To cook the pancakes, heat half a tablespoon of oil in a medium frying pan (ideally nonstick) on a medium flame and swirl it around to coat the base of the pan. Pour in a quarter of the batter and spread it out with the back of a spoon until it’s 15cm in diameter. Cook for three to five minutes, until the bottom is crisp and golden, then flip and cook on the other side until that, too, is crisp and golden. Transfer to a warm place, cover with foil, and repeat with the remaining batter, adding a little extra oil to the pan for each pancake, if need be.
Serve warm with a big handful of spinach salad scattered on top and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Serve the sauce in little bowls on the side.
- Food styling: Amy Stephenson.