James Read is on a mission to smuggle bacteria into our kitchens. In Of Cabbages & Kimchi, he takes the 10 greatest ‘living’ ferments – fermented foods that are neither cooked nor pasteurised – and places them under the microscope, before cooking with them in all their delicious versatility.
Here is one of his recipes for kimchi pancakes.
Kimchi pancakes (kimchijeon)
A common and delicious Korean snack.
Who likes pancakes? Oh, that’s right, everyone. This is a pretty common Korean snack and the second most common use for kimchi in my house (after toasted cheese sandwiches). The rice flour, along with frying them in a generous amount of oil, will help to really crisp them up.
Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 2 pancakes
For the Pancakes
- 60g plain flour
- 60g rice flour (or potato starch)
- 1 spring onion, cut in 2cm diagonal slices
- 75g baechu kimchi, drained and finely chopped
- 60g baechu kimchi brine
- 2 teaspoons gochujang
- 1 egg, beaten
For the Dipping Sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- Combine the flours in a bowl, then add the spring onion, kimchi, kimchi brine, gochujang, egg and 2 tablespoons of cold water. Mix the batter until it’s just combined and refrigerate while you make the dipping sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 80°C to keep the pancakes warm. Combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, spoon in half the batter and spread it evenly across the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the edges are just turning golden brown (~3 minutes), then flip (using a plate, spatula or pure confidence) and cook for a further 3 minutes. Keep the first pancake warm in the oven and repeat to cook the second, allowing the oil to heat again (topping it up if necessary).
- You can serve the pancakes whole, or (as is traditional) pre-cut into small triangles for handling with chopsticks. Either way, serve with dipping sauce.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Read is the founder of Kim Kong Kimchi, a company that’s made tens of thousands of jars of kimchi distributed through hundreds of stores across Europe.
Kim Kong Kimchi has given James the opportunity to build his own walk-in remotely-monitored fermentarium, write an array of fizz-related spreadsheets and address audiences from London’s Chinatown to Copenhagen on the wonders of fermented foods.
He adores research, reading peer-reviewed papers on microbiota, hunting out ingredient origin myths and running A/B tests on fermenting pineapple cores.