We went through rather a short-lived pickling phase, in which mounds of napa cabbage (Chinakohl/won bok/chinese cabbage) were transformed variously into batches of fermented kimchi – for science, pancakes, and grilled cheese sandwiches (Sliced apple, Gouda and Kimchi – revelatory!). The phase met an abrupt end however when the weather warmed. We’d been storing the giant kimchi jars outside, you see. It turned Less Than Cold, and it turned out too the jars had been collecting sunlight in secret. The kimchi revolted with much fury, there was (a bit of) an explosion, it happened in Tim’s face, and he doesn’t want to talk about it.
But like many a good love story, the cravings returned. Once again, we forage regularly for fresh kimchi at the Japanese/Korean grocer alongside other more peculiar punnets of pickles (sometimes, we just wander up and down the aisles, wide-eyed and drooling, brains brimming with question marks and exclamation points). These make for soothing, stress-free solutions while we recover our braveries for the next round of pickling experiments.
The recipe is barely adapted from Maangchi. It has been beautiful every time – very moist, crispy on the outside, well-balanced, oily but not heavy, as well as being basically delicious. 1 cup of flavourful mature kimchi makes one brightly-coloured pancake, and is perfect topped with chopped spring onions, shared between two.
In a bowl, place:
1 cup of chopped kimchi
3 tbs of kimchi juice
2 tbs chopped onion (approximately measure with eyes and/or appetite)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
½ cup flour (all purpose/405)
1/4 cup water (I always use less, or just substitute kimchi juice, because Why Not Just Add More Kimchi)
and mix it well with a spoon.
Your pan is medium-hot, is coated with a Generous slick of oil, and greets the kimchi by saying ‘chiiii!’ exuberantly when you empty the contents of the bowl into the pan. You pat it softly into a vaguely even, vaguely circular coagulation thinking ‘Pancake?’ with waning conviction, but you hope for the best.
You might, after one-point-five minutes, take a spatula to investigate the progress of the underside. Nicely browned? Yes! Should I flip it? I dare you, because it is O.K. if you bung it up (it’s not a particularly pretty food, and you’re into that raw/sincere aesthetic these days anyway) So – You flip it! I’m going to assume you were successful, and are thus saved the bothersome trouble of peeling half-raw pancake off of itself, like I did.
It sizzles another one-point-five minutes (maybe you’ve added a little more oil too for the sake of it) and then you flip it back over for another 30 seconds, and flip it back over again before you decide which side will be most attractive for serving, and also because your skill, however newly acquired, must be irresponsibly flaunted. Transfer the pancake onto a plate, chop the pancake into bite-size bits, and scatter spring onions. Arm yourself with chopsticks! Go to your battle stations!
In all likelihood, a more sensible and intense kimchi post will follow down the line. But it might take some time, so if you’d like to get a head start, there’s this recipe: 30-minute kimchi (it sounds ludicrous, but it will turn out to be lovely and filthy fast) And there’s this one too we liked – a bit of an all-rounder, that fellow.