Just about every country has some kind of potato pancake-like recipe, and Korea is no exception.
This potato pancake recipe is originally from Gangwon-do, the province where I was born and raised. These days in the city, people mix flour or other starches into their gamja jeon, but as far as I remember, my grandma and mom didn’t mix anything in the batter—only pure potato and slight touch of onion. That was all.
Jeon, or pancakes, are often eaten as a snack (and especially with makgeolli, or rice ale, on rainy days). It’s also eaten as a side dish on the Korean table, and pairs well with noodle dishes.
Here is a genuine, simple and delicious Gangwon-do version of the original gamja jeon recipe.
7–8 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
salt to taste
a little perilla oil and vegetable oil for cooking
1. Peel and grate the potatoes. Make sure to grate and do not use a blender. Machine-blending results in a vastly different texture.
2. While you are grating the potatoes, the starches will sink to the bottom of your bowl and you will see a clear liquid float to the surface.
3. Drain the liquid from the top of the grated potatoes. Let sit for about 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, grate the onion and add to the potatoes.
4. Drain one more time by pressing little by little to take out the moisture and season the batter with salt.
5. Use half of your vegetable oil and perilla oil, heat on a pan, and spoon the potato batter on the pan in a round shape (mine are usually about 10cm in diameter; any larger and they get hard to flip, since these are flour-less). Flip so you get a nice golden brown on both sides.
6. Serve steaming hot with seasoned ganjang (yangnyeom ganjang) on the side.