This past Monday I spent roughly four hours writing, cooking and photographing this recipe. Well, not exactly this recipe. I’ve been intrigued by savory pancakes lately and had a really specific version in mind. This fantasy pancake was sweet from sweet potatoes, funky from kimchi, and spiced with some of my favorite things, like garlic, ginger, scallions and soy sauce. It was ultimately topped with a runny egg and eaten with abandon. Mmm, food fantasies… anyone else have those?
When I actually got to writing the recipe, I talked myself out of using sweet potatoes in favor of celeriac. I think because I felt I already had so many sweet potato recipes in my life, and celeriac has been a recent source of fascination. For some reason I also added turmeric – all those Insta-lattes must have subliminally penetrated my brain. The kimchi pancakes turned out really good, albeit a little egg-ier tasting and yellower than I wanted. Nonetheless, I ate one straight out of the skillet, then a couple for lunch, and okay, like two for dinner. Later that night, I also spent an hour editing the photos before bed.
The next day I woke up at 6, excited to share the recipe with the world. Except, I didn’t feel as happy as I usually do when I really, really love a new recipe. I realized that even though the pancakes were delicious and the photos beautiful, these were not the pancakes I so sensually dreamed about. After laying there for awhile, I decided to hold off on posting and try the recipe again (and with sweet potatoes, damn it!). I was not originally planning on telling the tale, but when I read a similar confession from Sarah on My New Roots, I decided to share with the class.
I think the moral of this story is to trust your gut. I always say, “If it’s not a yes, it’s a no,” so when something doesn’t feel quite right, it’s best to continue striving for better. I’m so glad I decided to try again because this is exactly the recipe I was hoping to share with you. Yay!
What I love about savory pancakes is that they give us a new way to enjoy vegetables beyond salad and basic roasting. This recipe is actually inspired by a kimchi-bacon pancake I once had at Barn Joo, a Korean gastropub here in the city. For my version, I used a bit of smoked paprika to give them a meatier flavor while still keeping the recipe meat-free. These pancakes are best eaten hot straight off the skillet, but if you end up with leftovers, be sure to reheat them in a skillet, not the microwave.
- 2 small sweet potatoes (about ¾ pound), shredded
- ¼ head white cabbage (about ¼ pound), shredded
- ¾ cup kimchi, drained well and chopped
- 2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on a diagonal
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more to serve if desired
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 eggs, 2 beaten and 4 for poaching
- About 3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Using your hands, squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the sweet potatoes. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl; discard liquid.
- Add the cabbage, kimchi, scallions, garlic, ginger, flour, soy sauce, sesame oil, paprika, salt, pepper, and 2 beaten eggs, and stir well to combine.
- Bring a medium pot filled halfway with water to a boil and leave it lightly simmering on the back burner until you’re ready to poach the eggs.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat about a tablespoon of coconut oil over medium-low heat. Using a ½ cup measure, dollop the pancake batter onto the skillet and press down to thin it out (cooking 2-3 pancakes at a time). Cook until nicely browned and crisp on the bottom, 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Be sure to add more oil to the skillet if needed, as sweet potatoes tend to stick. Transfer the pancakes to a plate and continue with the remaining batter.
- Meanwhile, to poach the eggs, turn the flame under the boiled water to a very gentle simmer - you should only be seeing tiny bubbles - and add the vinegar. Break 1 egg into a cup. Using a slotted spoon, stir the water to create a vortex, and gently pour the egg into the vortex. Cook until the white is set and opaque, 3-4 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, lift the egg out of the water and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
- Serve the pancakes topped with eggs, alongside extra soy sauce if desired.