After committing to try this recipe over the weekend, I enlisted some help for what I knew would be an interesting meal, even if everything went as planned. But of course it did not, no matter that I had every intention of following the recipe to the very last tittle (only multiplying it to feed more). We had a blast though, J, T, M, and I (I being me), and the more things deteriorated, the more fun it got. Our experiment was soundly devised: we planned to do make a couple batches of the kimchi pancakes, and compare the results to a “control,” the packaged pajun mix M had on hand. All the mix needed was some water and the add-ins: carrots, zucchini, and imitation crab meat for us. Unfortunately, things soured from the beginning, as I wasn’t able to find potato flour (Whole Foods fails! Potato flour is not even ethnic!). So I thought rice flour would be an adequate substitute. The next problem was that what should have been a pancake-y batter was a dough-y paste; in our excitement, I fear we may have lost sight of the exact amounts for which the recipe called. Multiplying the recipe probably did not help, increasing the likelihood of mathematical errors. We added oil and water until achieving a batter consistency that approximated that of the control, and then the frying began.
M cooked the control batter while I handled the kimchi, which was orange on steroids, a color more fit for a Wong Kar Wai film or a techno rave. Overall, I thought the control batter produced a pancake on par with a middling Korean restaurant, which is exactly what you hope for from those packages. It had a nice chewy and our added ingredients worked well together. Of course the pancakes could have had crisper edges; they always can.
Competition in the pan and looking good:
Competition on the plate:
There are no pictures of the kimchi pancakes, either in the frying process or after, because they were unsightly. I accidentally poured too much batter into the pan for the first pancake, which wreaked havoc on my efforts to turn it over. Even three spatulas were no match for this mountainous pancake, the others can attest. It broke into pieces and ended up looking like hash … nuked mercilously to a pulp. The second one was thinner but I somehow thought trying to flip it with a flick of the wrist was a good idea. It wasn’t; half of the pancake ended up in the pan, the other half on the floor. Both halves at the end of the night. I think we managed to produce a couple intact pancakes eventually, salvaging the night. The kimchi pancakes were not chewy but still tasty. How could they not have been, with red pepper powder and kimchi “juice” as ingredients? Supremely more satisfying than their counterparts, probably as hideous as they were delicious. I think this recipe deserves another shot. I like kimchi but it’s nice to have an alternative to eating it straight up.