Korean Vegetable Pancakes – 야채전 (Yachaejeon)

Korean pancakes are a staple dish in Korean cuisine and are often enjoyed as an appetizer or side dish. You’ve probably seen these savory pancakes served at Korean restaurants, particularly Korean BBQ joints and now you can make it at home, and even better! While there are many Korean pancake recipes out there, this might be my new favorite!

Check out my other easy and delicious Korean pancake recipes:

This recipe is inspired by the potato zucchini pancake from Osamil in Koreatown, New York City. I was floored by how simple yet satisfyingly delicious this dish was. After taking one bite, I only remember how insanely crunchy and crispy the pancake was. 

Every time I made any type of savory Korean pancake or ‘jeon’, it would always turn out doughy, which is not what I wanted for this recipe. After several rounds of testing, I finally figured out the secret to the crispiest Korean pancake. Plus, it comes together in just 20 minutes!

Why you’ll love this recipe

This Korean-style vegetable pancake is a delicious blend of textures and flavors. You get the super crunchy exterior coupled with the soft and tender interior. It’s like the perfect bite. Like most Korean pancake recipes, it’s incredibly versatile and easily customizable. While you can enjoy this as is, you can also make this your own by adding your favorite vegetables. Aside from the potatoes and zucchini, I used what I had available in my fridge, and I encourage you to do that as well!

Now, this recipe yields a large pancake which is perfect as a main dish. However, if you’re entertaining and need to prepare smaller portions, you can make it in two batches. But before you begin preparing this recipe, I have a few tips and tricks that I’ll share later in the blog post, so be sure to read on!

Fun fact: In Korea, pancakes or ‘jeon’ are typically eaten on rainy days because the sound of the pancake frying in the pan resembles the sound of the raindrops. 

How to prepare Korean Vegetable Pancakes

Step 1: Prepare the vegetables

Cut the potato, zucchini, carrot, onion, scallions, and hot pepper. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Set aside for later. 

Step 2: Make the batter

In a small mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, rice, flour, cornstarch, sesame oil, salt, anchovy powder, and water. Mix until well combined. The consistency should be similar to thick pancake batter.

Step 3: Combine the batter with the vegetables. 

Pour the batter into the bowl with the vegetables. Toss well, making sure the vegetables and aromatics are evenly coated. Make sure to do this right before you’re ready to fry the pancake. 

Step 4: Preheat the pan & oil

Heat a 12-inch non-stick pan over medium heat. If using 8 to 10-inch pans, you can make this in 2 batches. Add 1/4 cup of neutral oil to the pan. 

Step 5: Add the pancake batter

Once the oil is hot, carefully add the pancake batter to the center of the pan. Using a ladle or spoon, spread the batter evenly across the pan. After 1 minute or when the batter has slightly set, swirl the pancake in large circular motions to allow the oil to evenly distribute underneath.

Step 6: Cook the pancake

Cook for 5 to 7 minutes then carefully flip. Once flipped, add about 1/4 cup more oil around the pancake then swirl the pancake in large circular motions. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp.

Step 7: Cut and serve with the pancake dipping sauce!

Transfer to a cutting board or serving plate then cut into 8 pieces. Serve with a pancake dipping sauce and enjoy! For the pancake dipping sauce recipe, check out the recipe card below!

Korean Vegetable Pancakes Ingredients & Substitutions

Yellow Potato – I prefer using waxy potatoes like yellow potatoes because they hold their shape better than starchy potatoes like russet potatoes. This isn’t a deal breaker so feel free to use whatever you have available!

Zucchini – the zucchini adds a mild yet fresh taste to the pancake. I love the combination of potatoes and zucchini in this recipe but if you don’t have any available or just don’t like the taste of zucchini, you can skip it. 

Carrot – the carrot adds a subtle sweetness and color to the pancake. I added carrots because I had some available in my fridge. 

Onions – the onions also add some sweetness and enhance the flavor of the pancake. 

Scallions – scallions are a common ingredient in Korean pancakes and I happened to have some in my fridge so I added them.

Hot pepper – I used a red hot pepper but any pepper would do including jalapeno, serrano, or even Thai chilis! 

Neutral oil – while I used avocado oil for this recipe, any neutral-tasting oil with a high smoke point would work. This includes corn, canola, vegetable, peanut, grapeseed, sunflower seed, etc. 

Batter

All-purpose flour – this is the foundation of the batter. It helps the batter cling onto the vegetables for an even coating. 

Rice flour – the rice flour helps to lighten up the batter and produces a thin and crispy crust. The rice flour counteracts the gumminess that is common with wheat flour. 

Cornstarch – similar to rice flour, cornstarch is also used to lighten the batter. It absorbs less moisture which makes the pancake less greasy. 

Sesame oil – not only does the sesame oil add a bold nutty flavor to the pancake, it also helps to keep it moist. 

Salt – salt is the main flavoring agent in the batter. 

Anchovy powder – the anchovy powder is my secret ingredient to making this extra delicious. Check out my easy 15-minute Anchovy Powder Recipe! It adds an extra layer of umami, which can also be substituted with dashi powder

Water – the water helps to bind the dry ingredients to create a thick pancake batter. 

Cooking Tips & Tricks for Korean Vegetable Pancakes

To ensure your vegetable pancake comes out delicious every time, keep these tips and tricks in mind!

  • For extra flavor, be sure the season the batter. I used sesame oil, salt, and my secret ingredient – homemade anchovy powder. Instead of relying on the pancake dipping sauce to carry the flavor, the batter is also seasoned so there are multiple layers of flavor in every bite. 
  • The consistency of the batter should be like a thick pancake mix. When mixing the batter with the vegetables, it should also be too thick. You don’t want a batter that is too runny because the vegetables will release moisture while it is cooking. 
  • Feel free to experiment and add or swap the vegetables in the recipe. While potatoes and zucchini are staple ingredients, you can add any other vegetables you like or have on hand. I used carrots, onions, scallions, and a hot pepper!
  • To ensure the pancake turns out crispy and crunchy, be sure to mix the batter with the vegetables right before frying. If you mix it ahead of time, the salt in the batter will draw out moisture from the vegetables resulting in a doughy pancake, instead of a crispy one. This is especially important if you are making the pancake in batches. If making in two batches, mix half the batter with half the vegetables then fry. When you’re ready to make the next pancake, mix the batter with the vegetables right before cooking. 
  • For best results, you’ll need to use a generous amount of oil. Any neutral-tasting oil would work including corn, canola, vegetable, peanut, grapeseed, sunflower seed, etc. I used avocado oil. 
  • Once the pancake is slightly set in the pan, swirl the pan in a circular motion to distribute the oil underneath for even cooking. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of dipping sauce would go well with these pancakes?

It depends on what you like! You can keep it simple with a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar or if you’re like me and like it thick and chunky, I recommend checking out my easy Korean Pancake Dipping Sauce recipe!

Can I add other vegetables or protein to the pancakes?

Yes, absolutely! While potatoes and zucchini are the main vegetable ingredients, feel free to make any vegetable additions you like or have on hand. 

Can I make these vegetable pancakes ahead of time? 

I highly recommend enjoying these fresh however, you can make them in advance and reheat them when they’re ready to serve. I find that reheating it in a pan over the stove top with a bit of oil or in a preheated 350F oven works best. I don’t recommend microwaving it because it’ll lose its crunch and turn soggy. 

How do I store the vegetable pancakes?

The pancakes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll stay fresh for 3 to 4 days! For reheating instructions, see the question above. 

Looking for more easy and delicious Korean-inspired recipes?

  1. Marinated Raw Shrimp – Korean marinated raw shrimp or ‘saewoo jang‘ (새우장) is the epitome of authentic Korean cuisine. It’s made with raw succulent shrimp that has been cured in a delicious umami-packed soy marinade. Perfect with a bowl of rice!
  2. Yubuchobap – also known as Korean inari sushi, these sweet and savory tofu pockets are stuffed with seasoned rice and served with various toppings like marinated salmon, pickled cucumbers, spicy mentaiko mayo, and more! These bite-sized pockets of deliciousness are one of those dishes that once you start, you can’t stop eating.
  3. Bossam – Korean Boiled Pork Belly – ‘Bossam’ (보쌈) is a Korean dish made of pork belly or pork shoulder that is boiled in various seasonings and aromatics. It is cooked low and slow, resulting in a flavorful, tender, melt-in-your-mouth bite.
  4. Seafood Soondubu – This seafood soft tofu stew is a spicy, flavorful, umami-rich bubbling pot of stew served with soft tofu, assorted vegetables, and seafood like clams and squid. If you’re a seafood lover, you have to try this seafood stew recipe at least once in your life!
  5. Hotteok – if you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, check out my Korean sweet pancakes recipe! It’s a popular street food in Korea known for its delicious brown sugar nut filling and soft and chewy interior. 

Korean Vegetable Pancakes Recipe

Servings 1 large pancake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow potato julienned – about 1 cup
  • 1/2 medium zucchini julienned – about 1/2 cup
  • 1/4 carrot julienned – about 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 onion thinly sliced – about 2 tablespoons
  • 2 scallions cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 hot pepper thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil divided + more if needed

Batter

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp anchovy powder substitute with dashi powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water

Pancake Dipping Sauce

  • See note 1

Instructions

  • Cut and prepare the potato, zucchini, carrot, onion, scallions, and hot pepper. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Set aside for later.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, rice, flour, cornstarch, sesame oil, salt, anchovy powder, and water. Mix until well combined. The consistency should be similar to thick pancake batter.
  • Pour the batter into the bowl with the vegetables. Toss well, making sure the vegetables and aromatics are evenly coated. Make sure to do this right before you’re ready to fry the pancake.
  • Heat a 12-inch non-stick pan over medium heat. If using 8 to 10-inch pans, you can make this in 2 batches.
  • Add 1/4 cup of neutral oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the pancake batter to the center of the pan. Using a ladle or spoon, spread the batter evenly across the pan. After 1 minute or when the batter has slightly set, swirl the pancake in large circular motions to allow the oil to evenly distribute underneath.
  • Cook for 5 to 7 minutes then carefully flip. Once flipped, add about 1/4 cup more oil around the pancake then swirl the pancake in large circular motions. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp.
  • Transfer to a cutting board or serving plate then cut into 8 pieces. Serve with the pancake dipping sauce and enjoy!

Notes

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Korean

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