What do you do with 20 lbs of potatoes? That was the question I posed to my partner when I found a large, mysterious box of potatoes in front of our doorstep. The response was simple and direct: “Cook it.” Deciding not to press any further, I started brainstorming for recipes that solely depended on these dirty little rascals. For some reason, this situation reminded me of one of my favorite cooking shows “Chopped,” where chefs unravel mystery ingredients and create dishes on queue. Lucky for me, I had no time constraints like contestants on the show do and I had only one ingredient to focus on, but I must admit that there was pressure nonetheless. Here are some potato dishes that came to mind: gamja jeon (potato pancakes), gamja tang (spicy pork n potato stew), potato salad, hash browns, potato croquettes, and french fries. When it was all said and done, I was able to make all these dishes and still have 10 remaining spuds. The first of several potato recipes to come, this gamja jeon (potato pancake) recipe is a quick n tasty version that can be made in a snap. I skipped the traditional way since it involves a time-consuming step (removing water and starch from the potatoes) that I didn’t have time for. However, this version is just as good (maybe even better) and you can enjoy as a banchan (side dish) or as an appetizer. Give it a try!
A little more about gamja jeon: One of many jeon (pancake) varieties made by pan-frying finely grated potatoes on a frying pan with any type of vegetable oil until golden brown. This is a very simple dish utilizing potatoes, salt, and oil; thus making it a go-to snack for any occasion. To add extra taste and textures, throwing in grated carrots, onions, green onions, and corn is acceptable. This dish is served with choganjang, a dipping sauce made of soy sauce and vinegar.
“Judging foods without regard to price is a rich man’s game, and yet poor people can be gourmets able to discern a good potato from a bad one.” ~ Mark Kurlansky
- 2 large potatoes, any variety, diced
- 1 egg
- 2 green onions, diced
- ½ onion, diced
- ½ cup Korean pancake flour (or all-purpose flour)
- ½ cup water
- pinch of salt and pepper
- vegetable or canola oil (for pan-frying)
- Peel and wash potatoes, then dice into small cubes, set aside. Do the same with the green onions and onions.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly. The batter should have a pancake-like consistency but a little lighter, almost runny.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan with a generous amount of vegetable or canola oil. Add some of the potato batter, forming round shapes, and cook on medium heat until browned on the edges. Flip over carefully and cook until finished.
- Transfer pieces to paper-lined serving platter to remove excess oil. Serve when cool.