If you have potatoes, you can make this crispy, chewy Korean potato pancake. Other vegetables are nice to have but not necessary. Enjoy gamjajeon as a delicious appetizer or snack.
Gamjajeon or gamja jeon (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 or sometimes with other vegetable additions. These crispy, chewy potato pancakes are great as a snack or an appetizer.
This recipe is inspired by a simple potato pancake I had as an appetizer, at a restaurant specializing in noodle soup, in Samcheong-dong neighborhood of Seoul. They serve one large pancake as an appetizer, which is made simply with potatoes, nothing else! 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.
How to make Korean potato pancakes
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.
It’s very common to add other vegetables such as garlic chives, scallions, chili peppers, zucchinis, etc. Whichever other vegetable(s) you choose to add, use a small amount, allowing the potatoes to be the star of the dish.
My favorite addition for gamjajeon is garlic chives. I like a delicate garlic flavor garlic chives give the mildly flavored potato. I grow garlic chives in my backyard, but they are also available at Korean/Asian markets.
When grated, potatoes turn brown quickly. It still is fine to cook with and eat. You can use a little bit of onion to prevent discoloring of the potatoes without overpowering the flavor of the pancake. Make sure to grate the onion first so you can mix with the potato as soon as it’s grated. If using a blender, blend it with the potatoes.
You can make 2 large pancakes with this recipe. Or, make a few smaller pieces instead.
More Korean savory pancakes recipes
Gamjajeon (Potato Pancake)Appetizer
- 1/4 medium onion - optional (see note)
- 1-1/2 pounds potatoes (2 large or 3 medium)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces garlic chives (buchu, 부추) - Optional
- oil for pan frying
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- pinch of black pepper
- Grate the optional 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.
- 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 optional onion to prevent discoloring of the potato.
- 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 along with the optional garlic chives. Mix well.
- 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 to medium low, and cook until the bottom is light golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Serve hot with a dipping sauce.
This gamjajeon recipe was originally posted in April 2015. I’ve updated it here with new photos, more information and minor changesto the recipe.