Umami Kimchi Pancakes

Umami Kimchi Pancakes

Pancakes are as old as cooking itself. Every culture makes them and I just bet everyone loves them. That’s partly because there are a million different versions. At my house – from fritters and latkes to these Korean Kimchi Pancakes – the best of these versions are all savory with unmistakeable umami.


Umami? What’s umami? 

Umami is recognized as the cryptic-sounding fifth taste, after salty, sour, sweet and bitter. It’s that “moreish” sensation that leaves you feeling that you just can’t get enough. I can spout examples of what foods have umami: parmesan, tomatoes, mushrooms, some meats, and anything fermented. But, even so, how many of us can say what umami really tastes like? 

For me, umami equates to a savory satisfaction. That hard to describe tingle when something hits your tastebuds just right. Crunchy and chewy at the same time soy-dipped Kimchi Pancakes really satisfy. It isn’t about getting too fancy or too flavorful: the joy of a pancake is that it is made fast and eaten quickly. This recipe is sized for two people but if you’re like me you’ll devour it in a single salty, spicy, sour sitting. 

Which is exactly what I’m looking for when I’m cooking for one. Kimchi Pancakes are alone food for me. The kind of thing I slap together to feed myself when Ken is out of town or in this case out on the town (he’s at a wine event hopefully getting some good content for this blog). GREG

Umami Kimchi Pancakes

Korean Kimchi Pancake 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1–2Source Rachel Phipps BBCPublished

Gochugaru is a coarsely ground chili powder made from Korean red chilies. It is sold in Asian grocery stores and online, but if you can’t find it use another style chili powder or flakes instead.

Umami Kimchi Pancakes


  • 70 gram all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 4–5 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (plus extra for frying pan)
  • 150 gram kimchi (well chopped)
  • 2 scallions (white and light green parts very thinly sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon juice from kimchi jar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Gochugaru powder (or other chili powder, see notes)
  • cilantro (as needed for garnish)


Whisk together the flour, cornflour, baking powder and sea salt in a medium bowl. Add the egg yolk, oil, and 4 tablespoons of cold water and whisk to make a thick batter. You may need a touch extra water, use your judgment.

Fold the kimchi and scallion into the batter along with the kimchi juice.

Heat a splash of oil in an 11 or 12-inch non-stick or cast iron frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour the pancake batter into the center of the pan, pushing it out with a wooden spatula so it reaches the edges in an even layer. Cook for a couple of minutes until the bottom of the pancake is golden brown and the top just starts to set, then turn it over and cook for a few more minutes until both sides are browned and crisp.

Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by whisking together soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and Gochugaru in a small bowl.

Slide the pancake from the pan and cut into bite-sized pieces and garnish with cilantro. Serve with the dipping sauce.