Kimchi Jeon (Kimchi pancake) with Fennel
Kimchi jeon is a crispy Korean kimchi pancake that is easy to prep for a quick appetizer or snack.The sliced fennel that is uniquely added in this particular recipe nicely complements the savory kimchi and adds depth of flavor.
These kimchi pancakes are referred to as kimchi buchimgae (김치 부침개) or kimchi jeon (김치전) in Korean. I tend to make these pancakes when I have some old or well-fermented kimchi in my fridge. It’s also an easy and quick fix for my late night savory food cravings. I also find it delicious to eat as a side dish with Korean BBQ (galbi, bulgogi) and doenjang jjigae.
Koreans also like to add some canned tuna to the pancake batter. You could mix in half a 5 oz can of tuna to the batter of this recipe. But I, personally, prefer it without the tuna.
Kimchi Jeon Batter
Most kimchi jeon recipes use cold water to achieve a crispy outside. However, I like to use cornstarch, which gets particularly crispy when fried. From my experience, it is more effective and reliable than using cold water.
I also like to spread out the batter as much as possible when adding it to the pan to make a thin pancake that is more crispy than chewy. Thinly slicing the kimchi and fennel in this recipe makes it easier to make thin pancakes.
If you have a Korean pancake mix or buchimgaru (부침가루), you would not have to add the corn starch. Korean pancake mix usually consists of all purpose-flour, rice flour, corn starch and/or potato starch, baking powder, and is already seasoned with garlic powder, and salt.
Fennel and Kimchi Jeon
I add some sliced fennel in this recipe. It has an earthy, anise-like flavor that nicely complements and enhances the kimchi flavor. However, if you want a more authentic taste, simply replace the fennel in the recipe with more sliced kimchi.
I like the taste of fennel and have always enjoyed adding it to salads and roasted vegetable medleys. I had some leftover fennel in my fridge one day and decided to use it to make some kimchi jeon. I found this unique fusion of flavors to actually work and so decided to make this recipe. Let me know what you think about this combination in the comments below!
A Rainy Day Pairing: Kimchi Jeon & Makgeolli
Back in Korea, people like to have kimchi jeon paired with some bubbly and creamy rice wine called makgeolli (or makkuli, 막걸리). It’s popular to have on a rainy day. The bubbly drink acts like a refreshing palate cleanser after each bite of this spicy and savory deep-fried pancake.
Makku may be my favorite brand for makgeolli. I get it from my local H-mart. They also have different flavors such as lychee, blueberry and mango. And unlike most makgeolli brands, they use all-natural ingredients.
Jeon Dipping Sauce
You’ll also often see kimchi jeon served with a soy dipping sauce. I added an optional dipping sauce recipe below. However, I feel like the kimchi jeon from my recipe is seasoned well enough to have without this sauce. You could also use this dipping sauce to eat with other Korean pancakes (e.g., seafood, chive, and mung bean pancakes) or Korean dumplings (mandu, 만두).
Pairs well with:
MISE EN PLACE
If you make this Kimchi Jeon, I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment and/or recipe rating at the bottom of this page. And if you have a photo of your food, be sure to tag me on Instagram!
Kimchi Jeon (Kimchi Pancake)
- ½ cup kimchi, thinly sliced and chopped
- ½ cup fennel, thinly sliced and chopped
- ½ cup water
- 1 tbsp kimchi juice
- canola oil
- green onions, thinly sliced (optional garnish)
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour (80g)
- 1 tsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
Optional Dipping Sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp water
- ½ tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp gochugaru
- ¼ tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Add the chopped fennel, kimchi, kimchi juice, and water to the dry ingredients.
- Mix until ingredients are well combined.
- Preheat a skillet at medium low heat and add enough canola oil to thinly coat the pan.
- Using a ladle, pour some of the pancake batter onto the pan. Gently spread it out into a thin layer with a spatula.
- After 4-5 minutes or when the bottom is crispy, turn over the pancake and cook the other side for another 4-5 minutes. Add some more oil to the pan if needed.
- Finish frying the rest of the pancake batter.
- Optional: Mix all of the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Serve immediately with optional dipping sauce.