Halmoni's Pajeon: Grandma's Korean Pancake

Esther Choi

Ms. Yoo and Mokbar, NYC

My cooking style is driven by my culture and background, and my grandmother is my biggest inspiration. This is a take on my grandmother's recipe for pajeon, a crispy Korean kimchi pancake. The batter’s key “secret ingredients”—rice flour and cornstarch—will ensure a super-crispy texture. This is also one of the most popular appetizers on my menu. It’s a true crowd favorite!



1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Asian rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon Kosher salt 
8 ounces ground pork (or any ground meat) 
1 cup kimchi, drained and thinly sliced
2 cups garlic chives or scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces, more for garnish
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch thick matchsticks
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/8-inch thick matchsticks
6 shiitake mushroom caps (about 4 ounces), thinly sliced
1 red finger chile pepper, thinly sliced
Canola oil, for frying

Dipping sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon gochugaru, Korean red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 scallions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds


Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, rice flour, cornstarch, sesame oil, and salt. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of water in 3 to 4 increments until the batter is smooth and runny.

Add the ground pork and whisk into the batter until it is well incorporated. Mix in the kimchi, garlic chives, shallots, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, and chile pepper. Set the bowl aside for 5 to 10 minutes, the batter will continue to loosen and coat all the vegetables. Mix well before frying. 

Over medium heat, add about a 1/2-inch of oil to a non-stick skillet. For a large pancake, add a cup of the batter and spread evenly with a rubber spatula, about 1/2-inch thickness. Fry for about 4 minutes before flipping or the pancake may break. Raise heat to medium-high if needed, but watch carefully as the edges may burn. Flip carefully, as the oil may splatter, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Pancakes should be deep golden brown and crispy on both sides. Remove the pancake and drain for a moment before transfering to a plate lined with paper towels or a wire rack fitted over a sheet pan. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Leftover batter can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, gochugaru, garlic, scallions, and sesame seeds. Garnish with the garlic chives or scallions if desired, and serve with the dipping sauce. 


6 people, about 6 pancakes