Kimchi Okonomiyaki: Fusion at its Best

Many Koreans will say that nothing beats a crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside Kimchi pancake on a rainy day.
Well, it’s clear skies and very sunny in Korea at the moment, but I felt like whipping up something really easy and yummy and Kimchi cheon (pancakes) came to mind. They are savory, spicy, and a perfect meal to make when you’re having a lazy day. But, since I had extra ingredients I decided to make a kimchi choen-ish okonomiyaki-ish kimchi okonomiyaki.
I think what seperates okonomiyaki from other savory pancakes is that one of the main ingredients is cabbage. Lots and lots of cabbage make it taste good as well as having a nice texture, and also the secret is adding dashi powdered stock in the flour mixture. Of course, you can’t forget okonomiyaki sauce, mayo, and bonito flakes to top things off. I decided to mix things up by adding buchim garu (부침 가루) which is a floury mixture often used in pancakes in Korean cooking and makes them extra crispy. I’m assuming there’s different kinds of starches inside, and also a little bit of salt. Buchim garu is a must for savory pancake lovers, so go to your nearest supermarket to stock up on some! Also, you can’t forget the quintessential Korean ingredient: kimchi! Use the sourest kimchi you have hidden beneath all the other banchans in your refrigerator to make the best kimchi pancakes!

Let’s begin. These are the ingredients I used, but remember you can use anything you want to; possibilities are endless!

Green onion!
Baby carrots.
One of the main ingredients- a quarter of a small cabbage.
Sprouts of beans.
Two eggs.
Skinny rice cakes! Like I’ve said before, chewy rice cakes taste good in anything.
I used both flour and buchim garu- Korean savory pancake mix!
Bonito flakes! They not only make the pancake taste good (they have a nice salty kick), they actually dance when sprinkled on hot steamy things.
Mayo and okonomiyaki sauce are a must. However, okonomiyaki sauce in my supermarket was pretty expensive compared to the other sauces, so I decided to substitute it with donkatsu sauce and it tasted amazing (and is remarkably similar to okonomiyaki sauce)! My donkatsu sauce was only 1,300 won at the grocery.

Shred the cabbage thinly.
Chop up the other ingredients into small pieces. For the green onion, cut the thick stalk into ringlets, and cut the green leafy bit into smaller pieces. This is so that the pungent stalks can become sweeter by cooking with the other veggies, and the smaller bits can be sprinkled on top after everything is finished.

Now lets move on to the batter!

2/3 cup flour, 2/3 cup buchim-garu- mix with a whisk.
Dissolve one teaspoon of dashi stock powder into 1/3 cup of water, mix and then mix with the flour. Then add 2/3 cup of water again and mix into the flour. Make sure your water is ice cold, so that when it is mixed with the flour it won’t leave lumps!
You want to end up with a mixture that looks something like what you see above. It’s a mixture that is runny but coats the spatula when mixing. It’s difficult to explain, and the batter depends on what kind of flour, buchim garu you have, so don’t be afraid to experiment. If it looks a little runny, add a bit more flour, and if it looks too thick, add a splash of water. OH and also I almost forgot but don’t overmix the batter! It will become tough when cooked, so when everything comes together, simply stop mixing. I added chicken (pork belly works really well), carrots, and green onion to the batter and gently mixed until combined.
Then crack in two eggs, mix briefly (it’s okay if the yolk and egg-white isn’t mixed all the way through).
Then I added in the cabbage and bean sprouts. Add a generous handful of each in the mix because when they cook they wilt down considerably.
And now for the star of the show! Take out the sourest batch of kimchi for good results.
Mix lightly. For a stronger kimchi taste, add two tablespoons of kimchi juice.
Then add any extra ingredients you have, whether it be rice cake, sausage, shrimp, cheese; oh the possibilities…

Now on to the fire!

Preheat your frying pan to medium heat, adding about a tablespoon of preferably grapeseed oil due to its ability to crispify anything you cook in it. Since these pancakes are pretty bulky due to all of the ingredients inside, it’s a bit difficult to flip. So I make two little pancakes instead of one huge pancake. I’ve had bad experiences before… Never make your pancake bigger than the flippable standard.
When pouring the mixture in the pan, use one fork and a spoon so that you can get both the cabbage/beansprouts and runny batter safely on the pan..
After putting the mixture in the pan, put the heat on low and cover it so that the bulkier ingredients steam and cook. It is especially critical to take this step if you have slightly thicker slices of meat.
Take the cover off after about 10-15 minutes and then crank the heat to medium high to get some color on the pancakes.
Flatten the pancakes with a spatula to increase surface area for optimal crispification.
After about 5-10 minutes, plate the little pancakes and smother donkatsu sauce and mayo all over them. Sprinkle on the other toppings, and spend two minutes looking at the bonito flakes dance.
Oh yes… It was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and the tartness of the kimchi really gave it a kick.

This recipe is perfect for a quick meal and easily serves two people (I made extra so I could have leftovers for tomorrow). Feel free to experiment with different ingredients, and remember to make them a manageable size for optimal flipping action!

Until next time 🙂


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