The Dish: When East Meets West – Tasty Variations on the Pancake

The longer I live in Busan, the more connected I feel to Korean culture. When holidays come around, I realize that the relationship between Korean families and the traditional foods that define said holidays bears a striking resemblance to that of the Jewish family I hail from. In a conversation with my close friend Jae, I told her that the onset of spring made me nostalgic for my mom’s cooking and the foods I associate with Passover and Yom Kippur; namely, potato latkes. For Jae and her family, spring represents that last of the kimchi that was made in the fall (the most flavorful), which is used to prepare kimchijeon. The following are recipes that have been strongholds in Jae’s and my family traditions. I might try to talk Jae into letting me come to one of her family gatherings this spring to get my pancake fix.


Roni’s Potato Latkes

Makes 20-24 Latkes

Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes (grated)
  • 1 small white onion (grated)
  • 2 eggs
  • ? cup all purpose flour
  • ? cup breadcrumbs (a substitute for matzoh meal)
  • 1 tsp each of salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)

Method:

After grating the potatoes, use a cheesecloth or colander to squeeze all of the excess water out. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat them. Mix the rest of the ingredients in the bowl until the mixture is even and sticks together. Heat oil in a pan until it starts to bubble. Each latke should be a whopping tablespoon on the mixture, probably 4-5 per pan. Let one side cook until they are golden brown and then flip. Drain the oil in paper towel. Serve with sour cream.


Jeom Ja Park’s Kimchijeon

Makes 4-6 large pancakes

Ingredients:

  • Small Block of tofu
  • 1 cup of jeon (boochim) flour
  • 1 cup chopped kimchi
  • 3 sprigs of green onion (diced)
  • 2 eggs
  • Soy sauce (for dipping)
  • 1 hot red pepper (diced, for dipping sauce)

Method:

Get rid of all the water in the tofu and mash it. Mix the flour with the mashed tofu until the consistency is thick. Mix kimchi, eggs and spring onions with the batter. Heat oil in a frying pan on a medium flame and when it is hot, fill the pan with a thin layer of batter. When the underside of the pancake is brown, carefully flip it. Drain on paper towel. Mix 1 tsp of diced pepper into ? cup of soy sauce for dipping.


Main image courtesy of Relative Taste.

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