Hi everybody, today I’m introducing you to a Korean regional specialty from Gangwon province called gamjajeon (potato pancakes). Gangwon province is well-known in Korea for its delicious potatoes.
Out of all the recipes on my website, this one requires some of the fewest ingredients: potato and a little salt and oil!
The first time I ever had gamjajeon was when I was a university student in Seoul, on a class field trip to Seorak mountain park in Gangwon province. Near the entrance to the mountain there was a small restaurant that served gamjajeon and makkoli and the gamjajeon was prepared outside in the open air so I could see how they made it. One woman grated potato after potato, and another had a skillet where she cooked the pancakes as they were ordered. The pancakes were a little brown because grated potatoes oxidize quickly when they’re exposed to air, and the traditional way of preparing them allows them to brown a little.
In this recipe I take some steps to keep them from browning, and I also add some buchu to make them green and add flavor. If you want bright white pancakes simply add a bit of salt to the potatoes when you blend/grate them.
My American friends thought these tasted a little like potato chips. This sounded funny to me at first, that this Korean regional specialty could taste like an American snack food, but after thinking about it some more it made sense. Both are made of potato and fried with a bit of oil.
I know that many of my readers are college students on a budget who like to cook on the weekends with their friends. If you’re one of them, you can get some Idaho potatoes for $3, enlist some of your friends to grate potatoes, and you guys can all make pancakes together and have fun for almost nothing!
- 1 pound peeled potato
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup chopped Asian chives
- vegetable oil
- red and yellow bell pepper, slice into 1 inch strips
for dipping sauce
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
- a pinch of roasted sesame seeds
10 servings (10 small pancakes) if served as an appetizer, and if served as a snack.
- Cut the peeled potato into small chunks. Add to a food processor with the water, chopped chives, and salt. Blend well until it’s a creamy purée.
- Put the purée into a strainer, with a bowl underneath to capture the liquid. Separate the solid from the liquid by gently pressing down with a spoon. Gather the liquid in the bowl underneath and wait for 1 minute for the starch to sink to the bottom of the bowl.
- Pour out the water and keep the starch. Put it in a bowl with the strained purée and mix with a spoon.
- Heat up a nonstick pan over high heat. Add a few drops of vegetable oil and then add some of the potato mix, spread nicely into 2 inch discs. Fill your pan with these discs.
- Turn the discs over when they get brown on the bottom. Add the garnish strips and press them in with a spatula.
- Cook for 1 minute until the bottom turns golden brown, then turn them over and cook for about 10 seconds, before they get brown. Transfer to a serving plate. Cook all the pancakes this way, until there are no more.
- Make a dipping sauce in a small bowl by combining the soy sauce and vinegar and sprinkling sesame seeds over top.
- Serve the pancakes hot with the dipping sauce.