Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.
Like all siblings, my sisters and I have very specific jabs and digs that we whip out when we’re mad at one another. There are the ones that really sting, sure, but more often than not they just show how much we know about each other and our specific idiosyncrasies. For example: These days, whenever I make fun of something my sisters are eating, someone slings back, “Well, all you do is eat kimchi!” Which is, well, actually pretty true, and I’m not mad about it at all. Especially when “eating kimchi” means “eating kimchi pancakes,” my new favorite go-to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack.
Here’s the thing about me and kimchi. When I see headlines for something called “pantry pasta” or “clean-out-the-fridge-frittata” or any other dish that promises to make use of the ingredients I always have around, my thoughts immediately turn to the huge jars of kimchi that are pretty much ever-present in my fridge. And while my favorite ferment doesn’t necessarily fit into those catch-all dishes, it always belongs in my beloved kimchi pancakes.
They’re beyond easy to make. The actual pancake batter is all of five ingredients, which I really, seriously always have in my house. (Soy sauce! All-purpose flour! Eggs! Kimchi! Scallions!) And it comes together super quick. Like, I-make-these-for-breakfast-on-a-weekday quick.
So all you do is combine the soy sauce, water, brine from the jar of kimchi, and an egg in a bowl. Then you whisk in some AP flour until things look smooth and fold in that sweet, sweet chopped-up kimchi and four sliced scallions. You heat up some oil in a pan the same way you would for sweet breakfast pancakes, and when it’s hot dollop in heaping spoonfuls of your batter—I prefer them to be on the smaller side because it makes flipping them more manageable. (Yes, I’m a 25 year old adult who works at a food magazine and isn’t afraid to admit she’s scared to flip pancakes.) Once you’ve made all of your pancakes (there should be 8 lil guys!), you stir some rice vinegar and soy sauce together in a bowl to make a salty-tangy dipping sauce. And that’s all folks!
Make them in the morning if you’re a savory breakfast lover like me. Serve them with a stir-fry for dinner. Or whip up a batch whenever you’re home, think there’s nothing to eat, and remember the beautiful jar of kimchi waiting around to make your day. And be sure to dig up all of the embarrassing pictures of your siblings wearing underbite-corrective headgear. You know, for emergencies.