The Chinese new year is looming round the corner, and here I am making Korean potato pancakes. The thing is, being Chinese doesn’t mean you automatically know how to cook the food. To me, ‘Chinese food’ basically amounts to a vegetable stir fry with soy sauce splashed in at some point. Pathetic, I know.
But what is not pathetic is today’s recipe for Korean potato pancakes. Unlike the regular pancakes, these pancakes are savoury and have a dense and slightly chewy texture. They are also gluten free and vegan because the pancakes are made entirely of potato- no flour, eggs, or milk!
Not being Korean and almost not having been to Korea (long story!), I cannot vouch for the authenticity of these pancakes. But I can guarantee one thing- they are good! The dense and slightly chewy texture I got out of the potato pancakes is also surprising, because I imagined them to be similar to hash browns or bubble and squeak. (If you don’t know what that is, you’re missing out! I googled it here so you won’t have to. 🙂 )
This recipe is based off Maangchi’s recipe, which I came across on YouTube. Her video piqued my interest the moment I laid eyes on it- Raw potatoes? In a blender? I’d been waiting for this all my life!
No, wait. Let me explain.
You see, for a while now the blender has been my favourite kitchen appliance (those who know me can testify), and I’ve wanted to put every single thing in and blend it up! Usually I get my way, with smoothies and juices and whatnot, but I never got to do potato. You can’t really make up an excuse for putting a potato in a blender, or do anything with liquified potato. Until now.
At this point you might be wondering if I’m absolutely bonkers. I really don’t blame you.
But getting back to the pancakes, you strain off the watery bits of the potato and what you’re left with is a purée. But don’t throw away the watery bits just yet- potato starch is semi-soluble (because it is a large molecule made out of small soluble molecules, it can dissolve but just not that well), and if you let it settle, it sinks and separates from the liquid. When that happens, you simply pour off the liquid and add the starch back in. According to Maangchi, you need that starch to make the pancakes elastic and chewy.
And then you stir in the stir-ins. Again, versatility is the boss around here. You don’t have to use parsley and sweet corn and turmeric- anything like sesame seeds, chopped spinach, grated carrot, or fried shallots would work incredibly well. If you’re adventurous enough, you could even turn this recipe a 180º by adding brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins!
In this recipe I’ve taken some steps to reduce the amount of oil used, namely wiping the pan with paper towel to leave only a thin film of grease. If you don’t want the hassle, simply fry the pancakes are you usually would.
It is recommended that you serve the pancakes with some kind of dip (see Maanchi’s recipe) or with kimchi. Being always (un)prepared as I am, I didn’t have any kimchi. Solution? Rotkraut, which is red cabbage sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage which is basically what kimchi is. Right?
(At least I tried. 😛 )
Enough of my ramblings for now, I hope you enjoy the pancakes.
Oh, and a happy Chinese new year!
Korean Potato Pancakes Recipe
Adapted from Maangchi’s recipe
(Makes 6 to 8 pancakes)
1 pound potatoes (about 2 large ones)
1 large handful parsley, chopped
1/4 cup sweet corn
1 large pinch each of turmeric (optional- for colour), salt, and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
- Wash, peel, and cube the potatoes. Add to food processor/blender with a small splash of water to get things moving. Process/blend to a purée.
- Over a large bowl, strain the purée using a mesh strainer. Do not discard the juices collected in the bowl- set aside for a minute or two.
- After straining the purée should look like thick porridge. Transfer the purée to another bowl.
- Meanwhile, a layer of starch will have separated from the potato juice. Gently pour off the liquid layer, and add the starch to the purée along with parsley, sweet corn, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Stir well.
- Grease a frying pan on medium-low heat with olive oil. Wiping away the excess with a paper towel. For the remaining batches of pancakes, simply wipe the frying pan with the paper towel again to grease.
- Drop large spoonfuls of the potato batter onto the frying pan and flatten slightly. Cook on one side for 1 to 2 minutes, until brown. Flip and repeat for the other side.
- Once done, transfer the pancakes to a serving platter. Pile them high and serve warm with kimchi (or sauerkraut). Enjoy!