Serious Eats digs into pancakes around the world.
We almost always have a large jar of kimchi in our refrigerator. It's not just a great condiment for traditional Korean dishes like bulgogi; it also lends itself to all sorts of other preparations. Its distinct spicy-tart flavor is a bright addition to fried rice and stir-fries, and makes a great foil for fattier foods like grilled cheese sandwiches.
But there's another benefit to having a jar of kimchi on hand. As kimchi ages, it continues to ferment, and the cabbage will soften and become spicier and more tart. At some point you'll find quite a bit of liquid from the vegetables mixed with the brine in the bottom of the jar. Don't throw it away! In fact, do a little happy dance because you can use it to make these crispy, spicy kimchi pancakes.
Making them is about as easy as it gets. Unlike Chinese scallion pancakes, these don't require making a dough, so no resting or kneading is required. You can mix up the batter in minutes, using just a few pantry ingredients.
A lot of recipes for this style of pancake call for pork, but we use shrimp here, which adds great flavor and texture to the pancake. Because this is a quick-cooking dish the shrimp need to be chopped up quite small to guarantee that they cook through in time. That means there's no need to splurge on expensive jumbo shrimp for this.
Along with the shrimp, you'll need to chop your kimchi and scallions on the small side to make sure that every bite has a bit of each ingredient.
You can form them as larger eight-inch pancakes and cut them into wedges, but we find smaller four-inch ones easier to flip—plus you get even more of those delicious crispy edges.
These make an excellent appetizer (banchan) for a Korean meal, but since they're packed with a generous amount of kimchi, scallions, and shrimp, we like to serve them as a main course, along with some quick-pickled watermelon radishes.