The Quick Tip For Making Your Kimchi Pancakes Even Crispier

With kimchi pancakes, there's an obvious star of the show: spicy, funky, sour, umami-laden fermented cabbage that tangles throughout the batter to provide a walloping punch of flavor. However, these Korean staples aren't just about the kimchi. No, kimchi pancakes — also known as kimchi jeon — contain their ingredients inside of a matrix of batter that transforms the classic banchan into a satisfying starchy side. The batter also delivers one of the most quintessential elements of kimchi pancakes: crispiness. The crunch of the exterior is the perfect foil to the steamy, soft kimchi within. Naturally, then, you might want to up that crispiness factor as much as possible, and one simple trick can deliver the desired texture in spades.

Those in the know use potato starch to make their kimchi pancakes — but to take it to the next level, it is critical to use unflavored, cold, sparkling water in the recipe. As long as one doesn't stir the batter aggressively, the carbonation will remain behind, and provide pockets of gas in the batter. The result is a light, almost lacy batter that crisps beautifully when it hits a hot pan. That's why sparkling water is one of our top secret ingredients, even for regular pancakes.

Alternative starches and heat are important too

You'll, of course, need the customary ingredients such as flour, egg, and liquid to make the batter. Adding potato starch to the all-purpose flour does help create the ideal texture, but it isn't mandatory. You could also use a bit of cornstarch for the same effect. Additionally, the kimchi itself is packed in a flavorful liquid that should be added to the pancake batter. It not only dials up the kimchi essence, but is itself a bit effervescent as a byproduct of the fermentation process.

If your kimchi pancakes aren't getting crisp enough, make sure to properly heat your pan and oil prior to cooking. The batter should sizzle a bit when it makes contact, ensuring that the exterior immediately starts to crisp up. Don't crowd the pan either, as too much steam will lead to soggy, wan kimchi jeon.

As with other pancakes, the great thing about kimchi jeon is that they are customizable. In addition to the kimchi, you can add other vegetables, such as scallions, to the mix, or aromatics, like nutty sesame seeds, for added crunch. Kimchi pancakes are also versatile, serving just as wonderfully as a snack or as a starchy side that pairs great with both grilled meats and vegetables.