Yes! Because it’s officially summertime (yes, I know it’s still 8 degrees some places – sorry about that) and there will need to be picnics, and why not pack up some kimchi pancakes and a wee jar of dipping sauce to nibble in the grass? The thing about picnicking, besides being awesome, is that really most food is portable, and you don’t need to stick to baguettes and cheese and cold pheasant, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I had a big jar of kimchi in my fridge that wasn’t going to eat itself, and since there are not a ton of opportunities to use kimchi from day to day (I know there are, it’s just not one of my default condiments), I decided to use a bunch of it in a batch of pancakes. Which, by the way, are different and delicious, even if you don’t love kimchi.
Generally, kimchi pancakes are made primarily with kimchi, with a small amount of batter to bind the roughly chopped bits together. Most recipes ask that you drain it first, which is smart since kimchi varies greatly in its ratio of liquid to fermented cabbage, and then add some of the red liquid back in, which makes the batter turn a beautiful salmon colour. An egg will help things along, and a few chopped green onions are typical. If you only have all-purpose flour, that’s fine – but most recipes call for some rice flour or potato starch to make them more tender and slightly chewy.
Beyond that, they’re just pancakes. Cook them in a hot pan with a skiff of oil until they’re golden on the bottom and have gone from wet looking to matte around the edges – they should be sturdy enough to flip, but don’t expect bubbles to break through the surface. You can make a couple of big pancakes, then cut them into wedges (as above), or make a pile of small silver dollar pancakes. Either way, they’re perfect for eating with your fingers, and are just as good warm as at room temperature. And if you’re an ambitious camper looking for something different to toss in your cast iron skillet over the fire, you can transport the batter in a zip-lock bag, squeeze it out into the hot pan, and eat them crispy-edged and warm, under the stars.