Raise your hand if you could use another quick, easy, pantry-friendly dish. (So … all of us, then?) I’m here to introduce you to your new weeknight BFF: Korean-style potato pancakes — also known as gamja jeon.
We Koreans love to pan-fry a lot of things, often relying on a flour batter, but this savory potato pancake doesn’t call for flour at all. With just grated (or, in this case, blended) potatoes, onion, and the potato starch left after draining the mixture, you can make a simple snack, side dish, or canvas for a meal.
Traditionally, Koreans eat pan-fried jeon on rainy days (the sizzling sound of the oil is an onomatopoeia for the rain) with a generous pour of makgeolli, a milky, lightly effervescent rice wine that’s low in alcohol and is a super accompaniment to pan-fried food.
If you’re eating gluten-free (or you’ve just run out of flour), lean on the sturdy potato and give gamja jeon a try. I whiz it all up in my Vitamix, but you can grate it on a box grater just as easily.
If you’ve ever had latkes or other versions of potato pancakes, you might be used to dressing them up with a dollop of applesauce, ketchup, or sour cream. You won’t go wrong with those toppings here, but for more authentic Korean flavor, chopped chili or scallions are a favorite.
Better yet, enjoy the savory rounds with a dipping sauce (recipe below). Or try topping them with a fried egg or some dressed salad greens for a nice little meal. If you’re a fan of hash browns, latkes, or rösti, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy Korean-style gamja jeon too.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 2–3 starchy potatoes, such as russet or Yukon Gold, peeled and roughly cut into quarters
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, cut into quarters
- About 1/2 cup water (enough to cover the blades of your blender)
- Salt to taste
- Neutral cooking oil
- Add potatoes, onion, and water to a high powered blender. Pulse until blended, 12–15 times.
- Strain mixture in a sieve placed over a bowl for 10–15 minutes. Season with a couple pinches of salt — this will help both season and draw out excess moisture. Give the mixture a good press into the sieve before carefully pouring off the liquid, leaving behind the white potato starch that remains at the bottom of the bowl. Add potato-onion mixture to potato starch, season with salt, and mix well.
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, reduce the heat to medium and add enough neutral oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Carefully scoop the mixture into the pan at your desired size. This makes about 2 medium pancakes or 4–6 smaller ones.
- Once the underside of each pancake turns golden brown, flip and continue frying. Add more oil if needed.
- Drain potato pancakes on a cooling rack over a sheet pan (optional). Season with a bit more salt while they’re hot. When ready to eat, transfer to a plate and serve with dipping sauce, if desired.
Potato pancake dipping sauce
Prep time: 5 minutes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon rice, apple cider, or white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- Toasted sesame seeds
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Adjust the flavor to your taste. Use as a dipping sauce for pan-fried potato pancakes, dumplings, and more.