Recipe: Gamja Jeon (Potato Jeon or 감자전)

Among the savory pancake-like jeons in Korean cooking, gamja jeon (or potato jeon) is one of the easiest to make. There's no complicated steps or a long list of ingredients- basically just blend, mix and fry and you're done.

It's hard to find anyone who dislikes potatoes and potato jeon is so mild, it's a dish that could work well to introduce those who are unfamiliar with the bolder flavors of Korean cuisine. It can be enjoyed as a side dish with a meal, a simple snack or an anjoo with some drinks.

The key to gamja jeon is to fry it up a bit thick in the center so that it has a crispy exterior but soft and slightly chewy center. If you've got some old potatoes lying around this is a great way to use them up too. The decoration part, while frying, is entirely optional and up to you.

PS - "Gamja" (pronounced Gahm-Ja) is the Korean word for "potato". :)

Potato Jeon (감자전)
Makes about 5 small jeons or 1 large jeon

You'll need:
- 2 small Potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped 
- 1 tsp of Salt
- leftover Potato Starch (Note: This isn't something you need to buy but will be made on its own. Read on below for more information)
- 1 Chili Pepper (Optional for decoration: Red or Green)
- 1 small bunch of Chrysanthemum Leaves (Optional for decoration)

For the Seasoning Sauce:
- 2 tbsp of Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp of Vinegar
- 1 tbsp of chopped Green Onion
- 1 tbsp of Sesame Seeds
- 1/2 tbsp of Sesame Oil

1. Peel your potatoes and cut them into rough pieces. The exact size of the cuts doesn't matter as you're just cutting it up to help it blend better. Throw it into your blender with the salt and blend it until everything becomes a slightly thick puree. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender in between whirling.

Note: If your potato variety is looking dry and isn't mixing well, add in a tablespoon or two of water to help it blend better.

2. Have a bowl and a metal sieve on hand. Place the sieve over the bowl and dump the blended potatoes into the sieve. Let it rest for a few minutes as the liquid passes through.

This is an opportune time to make the seasoning sauce. In a small bowl, add and mix all the ingredients for the seasoning sauce, taste and adjust to your liking and set aside.

3. After a few minutes all the liquid should have strained through. In a separate bowl, dump the now liquid-less blended potatoes from the metal sieve.

The strained blended potato liquid now has natural potato starch that's settled and lying on the bottom of the bowl which you will need to create a better consistency for this jeon. Carefully and slowly, without disturbing the liquid too much and causing it to mix, pour out the top brownish liquid until all that's left is the white potato starch that's on the bottom of the bowl. You should get about a tablespoon or two of potato starch leftover. The top brownish liquid isn't needed.

4. Add the potato starch into the blended potato and mix it around.

5. If you are choosing to add chili peppers for decoration, slice them thinly. If you're using chrysanthemum leaves chop off an inch or so from the ends of each leaf. I chose to use just a green chili pepper for this batch.

6. Heat up a skillet or pan on medium-high with a good dose of cooking oil. When the pan is hot, scoop out spoonfuls of the mixture around the pan; you should get about five jeons. Slightly push in your chili peppers or chrysanthemum leaves into the batter on top right away if you choose to use them.

Alternatively, instead of five mini-jeons, you could just do one big jeon. Whatever suits your preference.

After about a minute, the bottom side should be browned and done so flip them over to cook the other side. The second side should take less time- around 30 seconds or so.

7. Transfer onto a plate and arrange as you like. Serve with the seasoning sauce which can be spooned on top or just dipped straight into.

Crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside... this is one simple dish potato lovers everywhere will enjoy!