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Mama Bird’s Kimchi Pancakes

By May 31, 2024No Comments

My mom made kimchi her whole life. She started making it when she was 24, when she married my dad, and she made it for 60 years.

I didn't start making kimchi until we moved out here [Virginia]. I knew how to make it just because my mom used me, her oldest child — I was helping my mom, making kimchi all my life, taste tester and her sous chef — I knew what to do. ... But I wasn't quite clear how to put so much of anything in, even though I knew what goes in, but I didn't know how to balance it all.

Kimchi, the way I see it, it's like a work of art. There are no specific measurements…
Now, Kimchi Pancakes, I grew up eating these. In Korea, on a rainy day, that's all you smell. You walk down the street and every household is making kimchi pancakes. When it's raining, if it's kind of cold, it's the food that you crave.

Recipe by Jen Naylor, as told to EBR Publisher Lisa Archer


8-10 ounces of kimchi, roughly chopped

4 scallions, sliced diagonally

1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced

½-¾ cup all purpose flour (dependent on how briney your kimchi is)

1 tablespoon sweet rice powder (use rice flour if you can’t find it in powder form)

Pinch baking powder

½-¾ cup ice cold water (dependent on how briney your kimchi is)

Vegetable or sunflower oil for frying


  1. Mix kimchi, scallions, onions, flours and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add ice water and thoroughly mix with your hands to create elasticity. Adjust flour and water until you have a chunky batter. Keep batter ice cold until ready to fry pancakes; this helps with the texture of the finished pancake: crispy on the edges and chewy in the center.
  2. Heat a pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Add 1-3 tablespoons oil and let the oil get hot.
  3. Using a scoop or ladle, scoop desired pancake size into the hot pan. Let pancake become crisp at the edges and start to darken, then flip the pancake and flatten with the back of a spatula. Continue to cook until it is golden brown and nicely seared.
  4. Remove pancake from heat. There should still be oil in your pan (this is how you know your pan was hot enough and your batter cold enough: the pancake doesn’t absorb all the oil). Continue to make pancakes with remaining batter.
  5. Serve as is with a gochujang aioli (gochujang, Duke’s mayo, agave syrup, sesame oil and lime) or as a wrap with avocado or pork bulgogi, greens and aioli.

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