One of the main root crops in Finland is potato. Most grocery shops sell them at a low price during all seasons. Potatoes are not only cheap, but also have very good nutritional values. So I’m happy because I’m a big eater of potato.
I grew up in Ganwon-do province in South Korea. This province has a natural environment surrounded by spectacular landscapes, and potato is a very typical crop, as in Finland. It should not surprise how many different recipes exist for potatoes. Among them, the Korean potato pancake is one of my favorites. When I was a little girl, I used to spend the whole summer and winter vacations at my grandmother’s house in GangNeung, so she usually took care of my afternoon snack! When the weather got chilly, she asked me if I wanted to have Korean potato pancakes or Gamja jeon (감자전). My answer was always yes! According to her, this food is especially good when the weather is cold, because the pancake is warm and chewy! As you know, nothing can beat grandmother’s food!
Her potato pancake is super easy. She used only potatoes and oil. Can you believe that a pancake does not need flour and eggs? But, it’s true! I would like to share my grandmother’s potato pancake! Actually the recipe below is my own, so you will need some more ingredients (even though not so many). By the way, I also need to mention the Korean potato grater! I have some pictures of it! I hope you will enjoy them.
Servings: 2-4 Preparation: 30 mins Cooking: 30 mins
- 600 g potatoes (5-6 of medium size)
- 1/2 small onion
- 2-3 Tablespoons chopped green onion
- 1/2 green chili
- 1/2 red chili
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- vegetable or canola oil for frying
- 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon of water
- 1 Tablespoon of vinegar
- a pinch of sesame seeds
I discovered that these days many Koreans even use a food processor for grating potatoes. However, it is not as good as a Korean potato grater. That’s because of texture. Let me show you how different they are!
- Korean Potato Grater
The Korean potato grater consists of a container and a flat grater on top of it. The flat grater has big holes, so whatever it is grated is rougher than with the regular cheese grater.
It might not be very convenient to hold it while grating, but the good thing is that you will not spill even one drop of nutrients. Isn’t that cool? But be careful, and do not grate your fingers! It can really hurt!
- Cheese Grater
The regular cheese grater is (obviously) great for cheese or anything tender and small, such as a clove of garlic, but not for potatoes. The problem is that the holes are too tiny compared for potatoes. I make a mess every time I use it for the potato pancakes, and it even takes more time to grate them.
- Food Processor
This is the easiest and fastest way. I’m not saying that it is bad, but it is not actually grating. The result is not as good as the one with the Korean potato grater. When using the food processor, you might add 1/2 tablespoon of water at a time, because some moisture is needed to have better result.
- The result
Here is the result from the three different ways of grating potatoes!
In the top left corner there is the potato mixture obtained with the Korean grater, in the top right with the cheese grater, and on the bottom with the food processor. As you can see, they are a bit different from each other, but they will be anyway good for the pancakes. Yes, I love to experiment in my kitchen
After peeling or grating potatoes, they will turn brown. It’s ok! Browning is due to oxidation. It can not be avoided, however it can be slowed down by moving peeled potatoes as soon as possible in a bowl with cold water. Another tip is to grate some onions before grating potatoes.
- Type of potatoes
All kinds of potatoes are good. They might have different amount of starch, but I never have troubles. So whatever you can find around you will work.
- Different vegetables
You can add any vegetable you like. Here are some options I found on the Internet: carrot, canned tuna and bacon, sliced onion and julienned zucchini as above.
- Dipping sauce
If you do not have soy sauce, you can replace the dipping sauce with ketchup, sour cream, or mustard.
- Serving point
Right after cooking, since it is more chewy and tasty.
- No flour
Potato has enough starch itself however, if necessary you can add a couple of tablespoons of flour.
Eventually time to cook! :-D
- Peel potatoes and put them in a bowl with cold water.
- Grate onions and peeled potatoes as well. Set aside.
- Chop green onion, red chili, and green chili.
- Remove the liquid the from potato mixture. Set aside the potato liquid in a small bowl for about 10 minutes (you will see the starch at the bottom).
- Throw away the liquid except for the starch at the bottom. Put back the starch into the potato mixture and add the green onion and chilis previously chopped. Add salt.
- Heat a pan with enough oil (not too much) over medium-high heat. Pour or scoop the potato mixture and fry it until both sides turn golden brown (the best time to turn them is when the top surface begins to form enough and becomes crispy around the edges).
- Serve immediately with soy sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.
Here are my Korean potato pancakes. They can be a good snack and a great appetizer as well for everyone.