Because everybody loves kimchi, right?
You know, kimchi. National dish of Korea? Fermented spicy cabbage?
Fact: I made the mistake of saying that to my boyfriend and he looked at me like I was a visitor from the planet Venus. And here’s the thing: I’ve always loved kimchi. I remember the first time I had it, I was in a restaurant in San Jose with a friend–let’s call her CRB (you know who you are). And in this restaurant, they had kimchi sitting on the table as a sort of condiment, like hot sauce sits on the table at a Mexican place. In my not-yet-a-foodie naivete I asked CRB, “What’s this stuff?” She said, “Oh, it’s just this kind of spicy stuff they give you here. You should try it.” I like kind of spicy. I don’t like face-meltingly spicy, but I can rock a pretty solid throwdown with the hot food. I tried it and it was salty and pickley and spicy and crunchy and for me? Love in an instant.
Thus when I saw the recipe for sweet potato-kimchi pancakes, it was a no-brainer. Because sweet potato pancakes = YUM on their own, so who wouldn’t want to feast on yum + kimchi bonus?
There’s no reason to not feast on yum + kimchi. None at all.
Like I said, I can manage a fairly good spicy food throwdown, so when the recipe suggested that adding serranos was “optional”, I thought, no it’s not. As I was unfortunately out of serranos, I had to make do with the jalapenos chilling in my fridge, but that was just fine. It all worked out in the end.
And then measure out your beautiful, underappreciated, much maligned, delicious kimchi….
If only I’d taken the time to make it home-made. For future delicious food-making reference.
Once that’s thinly sliced, mix everything together except, of course, the oil, which is not for mixing. No! It is for frying!
In the interests of full disclosure…of course I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I had cilantro, I put in some cilantro. I had Szechuan peppercorns, so I put in Szechuan peppercorns. It’s all good. And then, in the spirit of putting that oil to good use, start frying.
Note: if you use more than the one pound of potatoes the recipe calls for, or put in extra extras like additional peppers or something like the unanticipated bunch of cilantro, then be ready to add a bit more flour to the recipe. You won’t add much because you’re not even adding a cup to start with BUT, you want to make sure there’s enough to hold everything together. And, when you have to add more oil to the pan give it a minute to heat back until it shimmers, because then you run the risk of making a soggy cake. I’ve made those mistakes before, people. Learn from my pain.
Yes, frying. Reality check: the Asian influence of kimchi doesn’t negate the fact that these are, essentially, fried bits of potato with nommy things stuck in them. This ain’t no diet food, people. But it’s goooood. And once both sides are fried to crusty goodness–which really should only take maybe three minutes for the first side and a minute or two for the second–put them on paper towels to drain and, when they’re all done…FEAST! Good with ginger-soy dipping sauce, sriracha, Tabasco, beat up shoes. I dare you to find a meal/condiment/cocktail party these little babies won’t sex up. They make everything better. They’re that good.