Gamjajeon (Potato Pancakes)

Korean potato pancake

Gamjajeon (감자전) is a variety of Korean savory pancake (jeon) made with grated or ground potatoes (감자). It’s a humble dish that can simply be made with potatoes. It’s also very common to add other vegetables such as garlic chives, scallions, chili peppers, zucchinis, etc. This recipe is a very basic one, inspired by a simple potato pancake I had as an appetizer, at a restaurant specializing in noodle soup, in Samcheong-dong neighborhood of Seoul. It reminded me of the potato pancakes I enjoyed during our high school field trip to Seorak Mountain, Gangwon-do, the province that is known for their delicious potatoes.

Korean potato pancake

All you need is a couple of potatoes, but a little bit of onion helps prevent discoloring of the potatoes without overpowering the flavor of the potatoes. Make sure to grate the onion first so you can mix with the potato as soon as it’s grated.

You can grate the potatoes on a grater or grind them in a blender or a food processor. I like to grate them on a grater for a coarse texture. Whichever method you use, you need to remove some water content from the grated potatoes, or it will be too watery for a pancake batter. Do not throw away the drained water since it contains valuable starch. Let the starch water sit for a while until the starch sinks to the bottom and forms a dense, white layer. Carefully pour out the water, and use the starch in the batter. This is the traditional way to make a potato pancake batter without adding flour or powder starch.

Korean potato pancake

Gamjajeon (Potato Pancake)
Serves 2
a simple Korean potato pancake
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 medium onion
  2. 1-1/2 pounds potatoes (2 large or 3 medium)
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. oil for pan frying
Diping Sauce
  1. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  2. 1 teaspoon vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon water
  4. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  5. pinch of black pepper
Instructions
  1. Peel and grate the onion (about 2 to 3 tablespoons). Place in a large bowl. Peel and grate the potatoes, capturing the liquid. If using a blender or food processor, grind the onion and potatoes together.
    Korean potato  pancake
  2. Drain the grated potato in a bowl lined with a strainer, reserving the liquid. Immediately transfer to the bowl with the grated onion, and mix well with the onion to prevent discoloring of the potato.
    Korean potato pancake
  3. Let the reserved liquid sit for about 10 minutes. The starch in the liquid will sink to the bottom. Carefully pour out the water, saving the starch. Add the starch and salt to the grated potato. Mix well.
    Korean potato pancake
  4. Heat a skillet with two tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add 1/2 of the batter, and spread it evenly into a round shape. You can make smaller pancakes if you like. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook until the bottom is light golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Serve hot with a dipping sauce.
    Korean potato pancake
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Comments

  1. Hi Hyosun! This recipe is delicious! I tried making potato pancakes before but was unaware of using the potato starch. The texture and results were perfect. Thank you!
    • You're welcome, KC! Thanks for trying it out and letting me know how it turned out for you! Happy to hear about the perfect results.
  2. David Pack says:
    HELLO Hyosun, I read about your use of the thick water of potato to use in the batter. Would this type of water also be useful as the "glue" for fried wontons? thank you, David
    • That's pretty much starch water. You can use it where starch slurry is called for. I'm sure it will work to seal wontons, but usually all you need to seal wontons is plain old water.