Thursday, March 31, 2011

Korean Potato Pancakes, Gamja Jeon


When I saw Lilyannette's gamja jeon or Korean potato pancakes, I knew I had to make them for breakfast asap. Breakfasts are testy meals in our home because Wey is always too sleepy/grumpy to eat. He prefers savory brekkies and since he eats in the car on the way to school (a not-so-uncommon practice here given the early start of school), I have to make sure the food doesn't spill easily.

I've only ever eaten and cooked pa jeon, a veg pancake with seafood that my Korean neighbor had taught me years ago. I love potatoes and a friend whose sons are six-footers has this theory that kids are taller when fed on potatoes so I'm desperately adding potatoes to my 16 year-old's diet. The truth is, I think, other than genes, easy eaters like my older son are tall because they eat everything and get a better range of nutrients. Anyway, I googled gamja jeon and stumbled upon a fantastic site for Korean recipes. Aeri's blog has very authentic Korean recipes and I like that like me, she posts what she cooks for her family. From what she has posted, you can make just about any kind of jeons so I used whatever I had in the fridge--bacon and leftover canned tuna. I added chives from my garden and half a chili and a couple of shiitake mushrooms that were drying up. Jeons are great for using up veggies and meat that you otherwise wouldn't know what to do with and also good for kids who otherwise won't eat veggies. It makes so much sense to feed my family savory pancakes stuffed with carbs, protein and vitamins than pancakes of carbs, sugar and fat (read: pancakes with maple syrup and butter--the Canadians won't be pleased). Really, if you think about it, a lot of sweet stuff like cakes and desserts are plain unhealthy food that makes us fat and sick. That's why I have stopped stocking my fridge with juices and sweet snacks and cakes are only for birthdays and special occasions.

Lilyannette's gamja jeons look light and crisp, almost like tempura. I didn't measure the ingredients and my gamja jeons didn't turn out as light but were still crisp outside and soft inside. And tasty. I think pancakes are versatile and you can test and try until you get the texture you like. For lighter pancakes, use less flour or use Korean pancake flour from Asian grocers. A bit more oil will make crispier pancakes. Be creative and throw in any veggie you have or like and come up with your own signature jeons. If making jeons for breakfast, you can cut the veggies and meat the night before. Grate potatoes when needed because they oxidize and brown easily.

Korean Potato Pancakes, Gamja Jeon
3/4 cup meat (bacon/tuna/crabsticks)
1 cup mixture of finely-cut veg such as carrots/chives/spring oions/bell peps/long beans/zucchini etc
2/3 cup onion, chopped finely
2 medium-sized potatoes (about 400 gm unpeeled), grated finely
1 red chili, thinly sliced
1/2 cup plain flour (or Korean pancake flour, which makes lighter & crispier pancakes)
2 large eggs
1/8 t salt (or to taste but remember the dip is salty) 
pinch of white or black pepper

Choganjang dip : 3 t light soy sauce and 1 t white rice vinegar but I like to substitute 1 teaspoon of the light soy sauce with dark soy sauce (Lee Kum Kee's) for a slightly sweetish taste. 

1. Grate the potatoes finely but not so fine that they turn mushy. I don't squeeze out the nutritious liquid.


2. Mix everything together in a bowl. The batter should be very thick. If using bacon, fry it until fat is transparent or better still, until golden brown~btw, canned tuna tastes great but Wey prefers bacon~

2. Heat up a non-stick frying pan. Grease lightly (for crispy pancakes, use more oil) with veg oil. Drop a large spoonful of the batter and flatten it out into a circle about 10 cm/4" diameter for eating with your hands, smaller if serving with chopsticks. Another way is to make a big pancake (saves time) and cut into wedges. When the bottom side is golden brown, turn over.

3. Serve hot with the dip.


Unknown said...

Liked this post! Great for ppl who needs to pack some nutrients in a quick fix. :D

the lunch guy said...

looks absolutely fantastic. i am definitely going to try these this weekend.

BTW: as always, your pics are tops.

thnx for this

Unknown said...

Ah, this Canadian’s in agreement with U. I’ve never made potato pancakes B4. Great recipe and yours look so super delicious. However, I can’t give up pancakes (blue berry ones are my favorite) with a bit of butter & warm maple syrup; they just make it worth getting up early on weekend mornings.

Mike C

Baby Sumo said...

Looks lovely. Will try making them this weekend :)

Food so delicious! said...

Set!!! Will make this on Sunday.. these little pancakes look so yumms.. I will most likely eat them with chili sauce! Wahahaha..

thanks for sharing such lovely recipe.. Btw, once I make this, can I post it in my blog and link it to you?

Laura said...

Hi Terri!!!
They look really good!! I'll try these, too!!!
I've tried your Sandstorm Chicken and it was really nice!! The only problem with me was cutting the meat: how do you do it?? Do you leave the bones? ...I'm not good with meat!..but I'll improve!!
Have a nice day!

Simon said...

Looks colourful and yummy ...and simple to do. Definately will have a go at it.

Will it work with sweet potatoes?

jimctang said...

this is perfect one. tonite i believe that this is the most beautiful and nutritious dish in your blog. everyone will love this for sure.

terri@adailyobsession said...

joh: yes:)

lunchguy: thnx for always being here with me:) how did ur pancakes turn out n what did you put in them?

m: ha, you took the bait! tt comment was meant for you, my canadian friend:) yes, agree, i love blueberry pancakes with maple syrup (we don't need to warm it here) too. make some for me when i visit?

babysumo: how did your pancakes turn out?

foodsodel: of course you can! i'll be checking your post to see what your take is, on the pancakes.

laura: yi n i think you are so cute!
chicken is usually chopped into small pieces here. it's easier to serve and to eat since we use chopsticks or forks n spoons. to chop chicken, use a chinese cleaver. it's an all-purpose 'knife' with a flat wide blade that cuts, chops, mince, mash, slice, juliennes...does everything.

simon: oh i think sweet potatoes will work well too. n you've given me an idea: taro pancakes. btw, yi is back in melb for a week, for a wedding n to sort things out. hub was there last two weeks. thnx again to you n M for all your care and guidance for yi the last 7 years:)

jim: wah...thnks:) hope you make some jeons soon.

the lunch guy said...

good, they are similar to rosti which i like so it was not difficult to make these just smaller.

i used pre-cooked diced breakfast sausage and scallions

Unknown said...

Will do; how about blue berry pancakes with peameal bacon. Last Sunday, I made potato pancakes 1st time for lunch & everyone loved them. Especially Alx, she loves anything with potato. I used chive, leftover chicken & bbq pork. Thx for the recipe.

Mike C

Laura said...

Hi Terri!
Thank you for the explanations and the compliment!
I think you and your daughter are very nice persons!!
Enjoy your day!

ame said...

I've just tried this korean pancake, thanks for sharing, love it very much!

Anonymous said...

I had a wonderful friend from Korea who gave me the recipe with a bag of the Korean pancake flour. She also added sesame seeds,,,,I actaully have used bisquick with some milk as a batter, potoatoes, just carrots slices, and minced onion if that is all I have, and the sesame seeds makes it kinda nutty.. Almost as good.

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Unknown said...

this is the best, no matter what meal it is. and to make, according to your own desires of what kind of potato pancake it is, but with this Korean potato, the recipes should be followed and extremely good.
think of a nice cheddar cheese, or colby, maybe a deli American mixed with another desire. Serving eggs any style, and the quick hollandaise sauce to put that all over
This is qay, way better then just hash browns, O'Briens, ...qhich of course, can easily be turned to a potato pancake of desire. Good vwith any meal

Anonymous said...

Loved this recipe! Thanks:)

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