What’s your favorite things to make with summer’s bountiful zucchinis? These Korean savory pancakes, called hobak buchim (호박부침) or buchimgae (부침개), are quick and easy to make and so delicious with summer zucchini! Perfect as a snack, an appetizer, or a light meal!
Over the years, I posted several different Korean savory pancakes. They are essential in Korean cuisine and made with all sorts of ingredients — kimchi (kimchijeon, 김치전), seafood and scallions (haemul pajeon, 해물파전), potato (gamjajeon, 감자전), garlic chives (buchujeon, 부추전), mung beans (nokdujeon, 녹두전), and many more.
If you wonder why the zucchini version is not called hobakjeon, it’s not wrong to call it hobakjeon, but hobakjeon generally refers to zucchini rounds that are pan-fried in egg batter.
Zucchini and Vegetables
You can make these zucchini pancakes simply with a zucchini, but I like to throw in thinly sliced sweet onion and green hot chili peppers to complement. The onion adds delicious sweetness to the pancakes, and the hot chili peppers give a nice spicy kick, kal-kal-han-mat (칼칼한맛) as Koreans say. Or, try a little bit of perilla leaves (kkaennip, 깻잎) or garlic chives (buchu, 부추).
Since zucchini contains lots of water, you will need to salt the julienned zucchini and squeeze out the liquid as much as you can, reserving the liquid for the batter. Squeezing will give a little bit of crunch to the zucchini. The zucchini-flavored liquid along with a lightly beaten egg is all you need for the batter, but you can also add some water if needed.
Korean savory pancake batter (buchim garu)
For Korean pancakes, commercially available savory pancake mix (buchimgaru, 부침가루) is best to use for Korean savory pancake mix. The ready-made mix typically includes flour, cornstarch and/or rice powder for crispy pancakes. It’s flavored with garlic and onion powder and seasoned with salt. If unavailable, you can try to create it yourself by adding a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch or rice powder to your flour. The cornstarch gives a slightly elastic texture and crispness to the pancakes.
Sometimes, Korean home cooks combine pancake mix with frying mix (twuigim garu, 튀김가루), aka tempura mix, for extra crispy pancakes. Frying mix typically contains more rice flour and baking powder for a crispy result. Try it if you have a bag of frying mix (1:1 ratio).
This recipe makes 6 to 8 small pancakes. You can make 2 large pancakes instead if you want, and cut into small pieces before serving, or simply tear with the chopsticks to eat.
More zucchini recipes:
Modeumjeon (Fish, Shrimp and Zucchini Pan-fried in Egg Batter)
Hobak Bokkeum (Stir-fried Zucchini)
Hobak Gochujang Jjigae (Korean Spicy Zucchini Stew)
Gaji Hobak Muchim (Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini with Korean Seasoning)
Doenjang Jjigae (Korean Soybean Paste Stew)
More Korean savory pancakes recipes
Hobak Buchim (Zucchini Pancakes)
- 1 medium zucchini about 8 ounces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 2 green or red chili peppers, thinly sliced -- optional See note 1
- 1/2 cup buchim garu (Korean savory pancake mix) or flour (See note 2)
- 1 large egg - optional (omit for a vegan version) If not using, add some water
- vegetable or canola oil for frying
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- pinch of black pepper
- pinch gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes)
- Cut the zucchini into matchsticks. Place them in a bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes until wilted and released some liquid. Squeeze the liquid out from the zucchini as much as possible, reserving the liquid in the bowl. Set the zucchini aside in another bowl or plate.
- Add the optional egg and pancake mix (or flour) to the bowl with the liquid from squeezing zucchini. If not using an egg, add a couple of tablespoons of water. Mix the batter well with a spoon. Do not over mix. A little lumps are fine. Then, combine with the zucchini, onion and chili peppers. The zucchini mix may look stiff when mixing, but it will become more liquidly after a few minutes. If it’s still too stiff, mix in some water (2 to 3 tablespoons to start with).
- Heat a skillet with two tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Add about 2 heaping tablespoons of the batter and spread it evenly into a thin round shape. You can also add more batter to make it a large pancake, if preferred (see note 3). Depending on the size of your pan, you can cook 3 to 4 pancakes at once. Reduce the heat to medium, 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.
- Perilla leaves (kkaennip, 깻잎) or garlic chives (buchu, 부추) are also good additions.
- Use 5 tablespoons all purpose flour with 3 tablespoons cornstarch if available. Sometimes, Korean home cooks combine pancake mix with frying mix (twuigim garu, 튀김가루), aka tempura mix, for extra crispy pancakes. Frying mix typically contains more rice flour and baking powder for a crispy result. Try it if you have a bag of frying mix (1:1 ratio).
- This recipe makes 6 to 8 3-inch round pancakes, or two large pancakes.
This recipe was originally posted in August 2013. I’ve updated it with more information, new photos and minor changes to the recipe.